Fun with Google Instant Search

by Rick Roos on June 10, 2013



Roos takes a funny look at what Google’s Instant Search offers when you type certain player names… 

It’s hard to believe that Google Instant Search has been around for almost three years. For those who don’t know what Instant Search is (or might not realize they do), the way it works is when you type something in a Google search box it auto-completes the search as you type, predicting what you’re searching for based on the most popular searches that have been run which match what you’ve typed so far. Since it debuted, Instant Search has been used as a source for humor almost as much as for information. I figured I’d try to mix a little bit of both with this week’s column by using Google Instant Search to have some fun, but also to see if it could somehow be turned into a useful tool for fantasy hockey enthusiasts.


Google Instant Search Can Be Brutally Honest

Some hockey players are well known for things that don’t relate much, if at all, to actual hockey, or are otherwise unflattering. The biggest (pun intended) example is Dustin Byfuglien, whose second entry is “fat” and third is “weight.” Sorry Big Buff! And as great as PK Subban’s 2013-14 season was, you still get “dive” as the fourth result if you type in his name. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

If you type in “Matt Cooke”, you get a list of the two players he most notoriously injured (Marc Savard and Erik Karlsson), plus Evander Kane, in reference to the one punch knockout…



…he delivered to Cooke. Don’t be mad Matt – I can only imagine what we would’ve seen for Tie Domi in his day (if you’re curious, his Instant Search now lists “fights”, “stats” and “Ulf Samuelsson”, who somehow isn’t listed in the results for Cam Neely!). 

There are also some surprising omissions. For example, the word “nose” doesn’t appear for Brad Marchand (even if you start typing an “n” after his name). Also, “mullet” is nowhere to be found for Jaromir Jagr, unless you type an “m” after his name, in which case it’s the third entry, right before “money problems” – yikes! And somehow “height” doesn’t appear for Nathan Gerbe, the NHL’s shortest current player, unless you type in “h”, in which case it’s the third listing.


Google Instant Search Gives You a Good Idea of a Player’s Fan Base

One question apparently answered by Instant Search is which players have the most lovesick fans, since for those guys you’ll see the word “girlfriend” or “wife” appear in the top four results. If I were those players (or their wives), I’d find it especially creepy to see “wife” appearing – I’m just saying……. Also, Instant Search can tell if a player has a good social media presence, as in some – but not many – cases, the word “twitter” will appear within the top four results, including for famous twitter users Paul Bissonnette and Roberto Luongo. If I was Luongo, I’d find it especially impressive that “twitter” is the first result if you do an Instant Search on “Roberto Luongo t”, even ahead of the word “trade”!


Google Instant Search Confirms Whether a Nickname Is Famous

Longtime Canadiens fans will be pleased to see that “red light” does indeed appear when you search for former sieve-like back-up goalie Andre Racicot. No luck in arriving on “breeze by” when you search under Patrice Brisebois though. For more positive Habs memories, Larry Robinson’s “big bird” nickname is immortalized as the third entry when you type in “Larry Robinson bi”. Sticking with the past, if you type in “Pavel Bure Ru” the first result you see if “Russian mafia”, not “russian rocket.” I’ll just leave that one alone……

For current players, I always wondered if people really call Evgeni Malkin “geno” but I guess they do, since it appears if you type in “Evgeni Malkin g” – albeit after “goal”, girlfriend” and “goal 3/4/13”, which is of course in reference to this tally:



Other active players whose nicknames are confirmed as being popular via Instant Search include: Johan Franzen (you get “mule” as the first listing if you type “Johan Franzen m”), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (“pickles” appears first once you type “marc-edouard vlasic p”), Jonathan Toews (“captain serious” is the fourth entry when you type “jonathan toews ca”), and Teemu Selanne (“finnish flash” appears as the third entry when you type “teemu selanne fin”).


Enough Already – Can Google Instant Search Give Us Any Fantasy-Relevant Information?

Actually, yes – you might be able to gain some fantasy hockey benefit by tinkering around with Google Instant Search. Take band-aid boys as an example. Ever since the term “Band-Aid Boy” was coined here at Dobberhockey, there’s been a big debate about whether someone should be considered a band-aid boy or not. I actually think that Google Instant Search goes a long way toward settling the debate. If you type in just a player’s name, and the word “hurt” or “injury” is in one of the top four instant search results, then – and be sure to say this in your best Jeff Foxworthy voice –

that person might be a band-aid boy.

Go ahead – try it for yourself and see if you agree. Oh, and if you’re trying to find super-duper band-aid boys, then look for the guys who have injury-related terms in at least two of their top four results, like Jason Spezza (his results include “injury”, “return”, and “news” – ouch…).

Also, if you want to see whether there are any rumors about one of your players (Is he maybe going to be traded? What team might he sign with? Could he be going to the KHL? Might he be retiring?), or to check on rumors you’ve already heard about, then you can see if any of those words show up in the Google Instant Search box. Seeing something there might not mean there’s necessarily any truth to a rumor, but it could prompt you to do more serious investigation, or to keep your ears closer to the ground for future news and updates.

And if you have a young player on your roster who hasn’t performed up to expectations, you might try to type in his name followed by the letter “b” to see whether the word “bust” appears. Of course whatever the results are shouldn’t influence you more than actual data and scouting, but it could help give you the wake-up call you might need in order to take a long, hard look at that player and where he really stands.


Final Verdict

Hopefully this goes without saying, but I’m not seriously suggesting you devote significant time to doing Google Instant Searches on your players in hopes of gaining a fantasy advantage. However, when you do happen to do searches related to hockey players, it’s worth taking a look to see what appears in Google Instant Search as you’re typing, as you never know when you might learn something or get a fresh perspective. And even if you don’t gain any real knowledge, we saw that you could still end up having a few laughs along the way. What this also shows is information that might be relevant to fantasy hockey can fall into your lap when you don’t expect it, so always keep your eyes (and mind) open.

Lastly, be sure to comment on any interesting Google Instant Search results that you’ve found – I’m sure the examples I discussed above only scratch the surface.