Did you know it’s been a while since the Toronto Maple Leafs last played a playoff game? It’s true. Be reminded every day between now and about the first intermission of Game Two, and possible for the first two periods of Game Three when the Leafs play at home.
The Leafs overcoming some very long odds to make the postseason is a pretty cool story, and their opponent has yet to be determiend. (Although it may be determined by the time you read this column, but I won’t be able to file anything else until about 3 a.m. Eastern, and who is going to read anything at that time?)
Part of what’s gone on in the time that it’s taken the Leafs to make the playoffs is that it seems every team has developed some sort of national anthem schtick—Rene Rancourt in Boston fist pumping after singing the Star-Spangled Banner, Mark Donnelly in Vancouver letting the crowd sing the middle section, Montreal fans booing the Star-Spangled Banner and Phoenix fans showing up late, if at all.
What can Toronto do to separate itself? Well…
In Philadelphia, the American anthem they sing isn’t the Star-Spangled Banner. Instead they bring in Lauren Hart and a dead racist singer to sing God Bless America:
It’s schticky, but it’s something they’ve done to dissociate themselves from the pack.
Now, in Toronto during the regular season the Maple Leafs will trot out whichever members from some popular 1990s band happened to be available that week, or somebody from the Canadian forces. The Canucks have Donnelly, the Oilers have Paul Lorieau, the Senators have Llyndon Slewidge. There’s no real repetition or familiarity.
This isn’t a huge issue because I don’t think that teams should even bother with anthems to start games. Skate on the ice, announce starting lineups and drop the puck in my opinion, but if you’re going to have to sing something, you may as well do something that’s familiar and attempt to build up some atmosphere. Chicago and Boston are invariably good at this:
So here are my points:
- It’s not unusual to have a familiar sequence before the start of a playoff game to help build atmosphere
- You’re allowed to sing things other than your country’s national anthem
At the closing of Maple Leaf Gardens, the Leafs brought out Anne Murray to sing. Well, lip-sync, really:
Particularly if the series is against the Montreal Canadiens, The Maple Leaf Forever is a song that’s more about the triumphs of Upper Canada because the original lyrics are slanted towards Canada’s history as a British colony. O Canada was of course written originally in French and the natural karma of the song deviates towards the French Canadien rivals.
The re-written lyrics for Anne Murray singing at Maple Leaf Gardens, which were also sung by Michael Bublé at the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics are as follows:
Oh land of blue un-ending skies
Mountains strong and sparkling snow
A scent of freedom in the wind
O’er the emerald fields below
To thee we brought our hopes, our dreams
For thee we stand forever
Our land of piece where proudly flies
The Maple Leaf forever
The bonus is that the word “Maple Leaf” is contained in the lyrics and also the title of the song.
What’s Anne Murray doing now? Could she come out and sing like she did at the final game at the Gardens?