Friday, June 12, 2009

Oh, How I Miss the Hockey Night in Canada Theme

For 40 years - count 'em - 40 years, Canadians settled in front of their TV's to watch Hockey Night in Canada. If you hail from a country that wonders what makes Canadians tick, this national tradition is the closest thing you're going to get to a collective heart beating as one.

And every broadcast of Canada's great game began with The Hockey Theme, written in 1968 by Dolores Claman.

Here's how it sounded when I was a kid, growing up with a dad who never missed a game if he could help it.

The Hockey Theme is widely referred to as Canada's Second National Anthem. Listen to what Canadian soldiers serenade themselves with while on a tour of duty.

This tune is embedded in our psyche - big time.

Just watch the reaction the theme gets from two little boys.

So, one would think that CBC executives would know better than to mess up a good thing when they had it.

But that would be assuming too much. Especially from executives.

In their wisdom, CBC decided not to renew the license for the iconic Hockey Theme. I can just imagine the board meeting where this somehow made sense.

"We can have a contest! We can have a new theme that really speaks to Canadians!"

CTV executives - who smelled the blood in the water - snapped up the unwanted Hockey Theme for TSN, The Sports Network. Here's what their revamped Hockey Theme sounds like.

Pretty good, eh? But who settles down to watch hockey on TSN? Anyone? I wonder how many Canadians switch on TSN to hear the theme, then flip over to CBC to watch Hockey Night in Canada?

So, for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, this is what I'm forced to listen to. Granted, it's got a great visual and audio montage of past hockey glory. But it seems to me the great visuals and sports announcing gold of the past is there to mask the unbearably generic sound of the new theme, by Colin Oberst.