Thursday, May 27, 2010
Two great hockey/music traditions
The Stanley Cup Finals start Saturday night with Chicago facing Philadelphia, which will give the casual hockey fan a chance to watch what I think are a couple of great traditions.
Normally I expect a crowd to be quiet and reverent for a performance of the National Anthem, but in Chicago they do it a little differently. At the first note of the song, they begin cheering their lungs out, and they keep it up all through the anthem.
It helps that Chicago uses both an organ and a singer with a big baritone voice, which is the way it sounds best. The above video is from the 1991 All-Star game in Chicago, but it sounds the same every game. It's been my privilege to be at a few Blackhawks games over the years, and the experience always leaves me with goosebumps. Enjoy the video.
The second great tradition will be renewed when the series shifts back to Philadelphia. Somtimes the Flyers use a video of Kate Smith singing "God Bless America," instead of the anthem. (It's a tradition that goes back to the '70s, when Smith happened to be in town and sang before a Flyer playoff game that the Flyers then won.) Other times they have a woman named Lauren Hart sing the anthem. I've been there to hear her, and while I usually favor a deep male voice, she is good as well. And for special occasions, they use the magic of video to produce the follow duet between Hart and Smith.
I hope NBC and Versus - the networks carrying the games - understand the importance of these traditions, and don't cut to commercial when it's anthem time.