Initially I sat down to write my analysis of last night’s game six game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks, but decided to take a different route and talk about one of the most consistently moving and special traditions in sports.
Yes, I’m referring to the national anthems before last night’s NHL playoff game.
This is one of the greatest traditions for a number of reasons, but when a Canadian team is playing a team located in the United States it always has a little something extra that guarantees to stir emotion from the fans and viewers.
One of the most interesting things to note is that every nigh a different reaction is waiting to explode.
Sometimes we hear fans booing the other country’s anthem.
Other times we get a bit more class from the fans and the opposing anthem is applauded or at least tolerated.
Either way it is exhilarating.
There are not many sports that one can do a Google search for the national anthem of a specific game and find it’s on YouTube with six pages of comments, but that’s what the NHL gives us every night. It’s truly an amazing thing.
No sport has as good of pre-game introductions.
No sport gets the adrenaline pumping quicker than the NHL.
However, the Canucks/Blackhawks series has been more magnificent than usual.
Some called it the “Stanley Cup of anthems” in Chicago after Blackhawks fans wildly applauded not only the United States anthem, but the Canadian anthem as well.
It’s a level of class that simply does not show itself in other sports.
There were nearly as many Blackhawks fans singing the Canadian anthem as there was the American anthem.
“I’m not American,” Canucks’ Kyle Wellwood said about the anthems in Chicago, “But whenever the crowd gets going like that, you definitely feel an extra surge of energy."
Just think of how many times we have heard soccer fans shout racist comments, or fans boo rowdily at the American anthem during NFL games in London.
Far too many.
Now, combine this level of respect with the postseries hand shaking tradition and the passing of the Stanley Cup and you have the classiest sport in the world.
Last night was no different.
However, when the speakers began pumping the Canadian anthem I noticed something was quite different.
The level of participation during anthems is much heavier from Canadian fans.
Is it something political? Doubtful.
Are Canadians better hockey fans than Americans? Probably not.
Maybe it has something to do with the anthem itself. I feel the real difference is how much easier the Canadian anthem is to sing.
Being American myself, I have always found the Canadian anthem a more pleasing musical piece than the American counterpart.
Where the Canadian anthem succeeds in sports terms it’s that is doesn’t require a wide range of vocals.
In other words, anyone with a voice can probably sing the song OK.
It’s an easy sing for husky men, office workers, soccer moms, and children alike.
The Star Spangled Banner has more ups and down than most Catholic church hymns and it’s easy to see why your average hockey fan would much rather mouth the words and move on to the puck drop.
I doubt the Honorable Theodore Robitaille, Lietenant Governor of Quebec, had hockey in mind when he asked Calixa Lavallee to write the Canadian anthem, but it feels like he did last night.
After all, what’s the purpose of having a nation anthem? To be sung, of course.
The Canadian anthem has more “singability” across the board by having easier words to understand.
How many blue collar workers and children understand these terms: spangled, perilous, ramparts, and gallantly?
Probably very, few yet every single of these words is in the United States anthem.
It doesn’t come as a surprise then that Americans don’t want to sing words at max volume they don’t even understand.
Unfortunately for NHL fans in the states these reasons make scenes like we had in Chicago and Vancouver during this series all the more rare.
There are very few things in sports more rousing than 20,000 fans singing their country’s anthem at the top of their lungs.
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