It started as a joke between a couple who were expecting and some friends, progressed to serious discussions and, well, here we are.
Say hello to Marc and Mikaela Singer’s two girls:
Niemi Singer, born in 2010, when the Blackhawks won a Stanley Cup.
Hossa Singer, born in 2013, when the Blackhawks won another Cup.
The girls are named after Antti Niemi, who was the Hawks’ goalie in 2010, and Hawks forward Marian Hossa.
Before you cast judgment on the Singers’ judgment, just remember there was a Byfuglien on the roster in 2010 and a Hjalmarsson in 2013.
If the parents want you to know one thing, it’s that they exercised the naming rights to their children joyfully and soberly. They’d also like you to know that, although they are serious Hawks supporters and have been on the edge of their seats during the current Blues series, you will not find them on the lunatic fringe of fandom. He was a Blackhawks fan growing up in Berwyn, and she was a hockey fan in general as her family moved about the country, including stops in Naperville and Lemont.
‘‘We have some jerseys, we have some paraphernalia, but it’s not the super, crazy fan thing, like we have flags all over the house,’’ Marc said in a telephone interview from Billings, Mont., where they live. ‘‘We’re fans. We watch all the games. No face paint or anything like that.’’
And yet . . .
And yet . . .
And yet they have children named after hockey players. We’ll get around to trying to square that in a moment, but let’s start at the beginning, in 2010. Mikaela was pregnant with the couple’s first child.
‘‘We couldn’t agree on any girl names, and our friends joked with us that if the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, we should name her after one of the players,’’ she said.
Laughter. Smiles. And then, eventually, rumination. The more the Singers said ‘‘Niemi,’’ the more they liked the way it rolled melodically off their tongues.
‘‘We decided that if they won, we were going to name her that,’’ Mikaela said.
You know what happened. The Hawks beat the Nashville Predators in the first round. They beat the Vancouver Canucks in the second round. They beat the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference finals.
‘‘They started winning and winning, and I said, ‘Holy crap, we’re going to have to name her after a hockey player!’ ” Marc said.
The Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers in six games to win the Stanley Cup. The downtown parade took place June 11. Niemi Hope Singer arrived to her own fanfare in November.
The reaction from family and friends was mixed.
‘‘Everyone who’s a hockey fan loved it,’’ Mikaela said. ‘‘That’s pretty much my whole family.’’
Marc’s and Mikaela’s parents thought it was a one-and-done phenomenon that would end with Niemi. Then came Hossa Marie Singer in September 2013 after the Hawks won their second Cup in four seasons.
‘‘They were like, ‘You’re going to do this again?’ ” Marc said. ‘‘And we said, ‘Well, yeah. We can’t name her Mary or Jane now. We have to do something good.’ ”
Will the children be burdened by their names as they get older or will they embrace them with the same spirit with which their parents bestowed them?
‘‘We would always give them the choice if they wanted to go by their middle names,’’ said Mikaela, a stay-at-home mom.
‘‘We want them to be free thinkers, we want them to be eccentric, we want them to be stand-up people,’’ said Marc, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. ‘‘I think with different names, it will help them get through life. I don’t think they’ll resent it at all. And there’s a great story attached to why it happened. It was something that was important to us, and it always will be.’’
But now, when they say their girls’ names, they don’t think of two Stanley Cups. They think of two lively children.
Niemi, 3½, is well aware of where her name comes from and will tell you that, although she roots for the Hawks, her favorite player is Niemi, the goalie, who plays for the Sharks.
‘‘She says, ‘That’s my boy,’ ” Mikaela said.
And, yes, people do recognize Hawks players’ names in Montana.
‘‘We were sitting in our local pizza place, maybe two months before Hossa was born,’’ Marc said. ‘‘A guy with a Blackhawks hat walks in. I went up to him and I said, ‘You know that little one right there, her name is Niemi.’ He said, ‘You’re kidding me.’ I said, ‘No, she was born in 2010. And the one in mom’s belly is going to be Hossa.’ ’’
Without missing a beat, the man said, ‘‘What about ‘Kaner?’ ’’
If the Blackhawks do win the Cup again, don’t expect a Bollig Singer. Alas, the couple are done having children.
By the way, if one of the girls had been a boy, the parents say they would have seriously considered naming him Konerko Singer.
After White Sox star Paul Konerko.