Before every NHL game, the national anthem for the United States and/or Canada is played. For some, it’s just another time they hear it at a game, but in these following situations, it is more than that. These national anthems affected every person in attendance, at home, and in the world of hockey. Do you agree with the list? Comment your favorite anthem moment!
Note: These are in no particular order
Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto Following the Parliament Hill Attack – 10/25/2014
After a terrorist attack on Parliament Hill in Ottawa left a soldier dead and injured others and a hit-and-run attack in Montreal taking the life of an officer, the Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Montreal Canadiens held a pregame ceremony in unison for both the remembrance of these men and as a showing of unity.
Both Senators and New Jersey Devils players stood together around center ice for a moment of silence that lasted more than 45 seconds. The sold out crowd in the Canadian Tire Centre sang ‘O Canada’ with fans in Toronto and Montreal. This was emotional not just for Ottawa and Montreal, but for the entire country. Any time the fans sing the national anthem by themselves is an amazing thing to witness. This remembrance was really something to see on television, and although I can’t imagine what it was like in person, the memory must’ve been ingrained in many.
Boston Strong – 4/17/2013
Two days before this game took place, a tragic terrorist attack during the Boston Marathon occurred that resulted in over 200 being injured and 3 who lost their lives to bombs placed in the crowd. The whole city of Boston, along with the rest of the country, came together to honor first responders and to remember those who lost their lives and were wounded.
After a moment of silence was held for those who were affected by the attack, a video on the scoreboard was shown that included pictures of the attack’s aftermath with the conclusion of “Boston Strong” flashing on screen. Immediately after, Rene Rancourt began singing the United States national anthem, only to stop and have the TD Garden sing the rest, followed by a “USA! USA! USA!” chant.
The Rangers’ Home Opener Following 9/11 – 10/7/2001
The first regular season game after 9/11 at Madison Square Garden took place on October 7, 2001. This Rangers home opener against the Buffalo Sabres was to be dedicated to those who lost their lives and all the first-responders during that day. After a tribute to everybody affected by the attack, the NYPD and FDNY hockey teams came out onto the ice hearing a “USA! USA! USA!” chant.
Later in the tribute, Mark Messier received the helmet of Ray Downey, the Chief of Rescue Operations, who lost his life on 9/11. Messier put it on with pride and gave a speech to the arena expressing condolences from the entire organization and giving thanks to everybody who helped on that day.
Edmonton Sings ‘O Canada’ – 6/10/2006
Through good times and bad, Oilers fans are loyal to their team no matter what. For the first time since 1990, Edmonton made their way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006, where they were matched up against the Carolina Hurricanes. After losing the first two games in Carolina, the series went to Edmonton where the Oilers were met with over 16,000 fans cheering at Rexall Place. As the players made their way under the big oil rig and onto the ice, you’d think the building was about to collapse from how loud it was. Anthemist Paul Lorieau seemed almost drowned out by the fans singing ‘O Canada’, so he allowed the crowd to take over.
Philadelphia’s Ode to Ed Snider – 4/18/16
Just 7 days previously, both Philadelphia and the hockey world lost a great man who decided he wanted to bring hockey to the City of Brotherly Love in 1967. This loved owner, the “Original Flyer”, had a great influence not only in Philadelphia, but in other cities as well. That man was Ed Snider.
Singer Kate Smith was arguably best known for the good luck she brought the Flyers when her song, ‘God Bless America’, was either sang by her or her recording before every game in the 1970s. The most famous rendition was during the 1974 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins in Game 6, the same game the Flyers won the Stanley Cup. The Flyers’ record until then was 36-3-1 when ‘God Bless America’ was played before games. Every once in a while, the Flyers still play her rendition for all of the Wells Fargo Center attendees to hear before the faceoff. It was fitting that current anthemist Lauren Hart, daughter of former Flyers broadcaster Gene Hart, sang “God Bless America” along with Smith (a duet with Smith’s 1974 recording being played) before Game 3 of the 1st round series between the Flyers and Washington Capitals. This was a very emotional game coming into the building, but once Kate Smith was heard, the crowd cheered Loudly. They felt like this was going to be more emotional than usual. Although this was not the national anthem, it deserves recognition for the passing that occurred days earlier.
Editor’s note: the Flyers’ GM in the 1970s, Keith Allen, was tired of seeing people walking around and talking during the national anthem. After hearing Kate Smith’s ‘God Bless America’, he decided to play that instead of the national anthem at Flyers games. The rest, as they say, is history.
Andrew Ostrosky is a writer and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms reporter for Good Night, Good Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @HockeyGuyFromSL.