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How a Nikita Kucherov goal helped Tampa couple name their child

Sports fans are known to name things after their favorite athletes. Whether it’s car, a pet or a child, the names stick and provide a backstory. (Remember Malkin Crosby Long?)

So it’s no surprise that a Tampa area newborn, who entered the world early on Tuesday morning, shares a name with one of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s biggest stars.

No, not Steven after captain Steven Stamkos. No, not Ben after goaltender Ben Bishop. No, not even Victor, after stud defenseman Victor Hedman.

At 8:48 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Nikita Annette Franklin was born, named after forward Nikita Kucherov.

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How did Laine and Eric Franklin land on Nikita as a name for their daughter? While attending a game last season, Laine informed Eric that she was pregnant. Jokingly, Eric told her that they should name the child after the Lightning player who scored the first goal in that game. Sure enough, it was Kucherov. 

From the Tampa Bay Times:

"I didn't think she (Laine) was actually going to do it," said Eric Franklin, a 28-year-old Web developer. "But she ended up wanting the name more than I did.”
The couple went back and forth over whether they were really going to name their first child after a hockey player.
”We weren't sure about the name at first," said Laine Franklin, 26, a teacher at Hunters Green Elementary School. "But it worked out, and we love it for her."

Had Laine given birth to a boy, the couple say they would have gone with Nick or Nicholas.

Since they decided on the Nikita name, they couple has created an entire baby book with articles, pictures and other Kucherov-related items. At some point, they’ll have to track down the man himself so little Nikita can meet big Nikita.

Florida Hospital Tampa

According to the Times, Eric had tickets to Tuesday night’s Game 6, which the Lightning lost 5-2, but wisely chose bonding time with his daughter and wife. 

"We had good tickets," Eric said. "But I'd rather be watching the game from the hospital with my baby.”

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!



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