There are many Montreal institutions that deserve to be celebrated: Schwartz' deli, the Montreal Canadiens and, our native son, William Shatner.
Shatner was born in Montreal in 1931. He has gone on to a long and storied career, playing starship Enterprise Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek, bad-ass cop T.J. Hooker and, most recently, legendary litigator Denny Crane in Boston Legal.
In between those roles, Shatner launched a mildly successful music career which got off to a most inauspicious start with a cover version of the Beatles Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds on his album The Transformed Man released in 1968. In 2006, Q magazine deemed it one of the 50 worst albums ever released.
His self-parody persona, however, along with his staccato, spoken-man approach to song has won over even the surliest of Shatner haters. His moderately successful 2004 album, Has-Been, even charted at No. 22 on Billboard Top Heatseekers.
As far as any one knows, William Shatner has never sung either the Canadian or American national anthem, at least not in public. There is a movement afoot, however, to change that.
Montreal journalist Kristian Grevenor is a fan of both Shatner and the Habs. He has launched an on-line petition urging the Montreal Canadiens to have Shatner voyage home to sing the national anthem during the team's centennial season.
I contacted Gravenor about his petition and asked him how the idea came about. He says the idea struck him like a phaser blast to the chest after reading an on-line post about Shatner.
"I then recalled the love the city showed for Shatner in 1992 when McGill University students forced the school to accept that the Student Union building be named after
Shatner, which proved the grassroots love for Montreal's most famous actor."
Gravenor believes Shatner is up for the challenge.
"He's also a solid guy. When we emailed him a few years back asking for a Montreal anecdote for our book Montreal: The Unknown City, he kindly obliged. He's obviously a good sport and open minded towards a lot of projects."
But with the city focused on honoring Habs legends and determined to bring home its first Stanley Cup since 1993, is there room for two Montreal legends to share the same ice?
"It would be a moment of great drama, a fusion of two local legendary institutions. It would also be sensory overload, an unforgettable moment that would make a few highlight reels."
Despite Shatner's music style, which has been known to raise a few eyebrows, Gravenor points to Shatner's Has Been album as proof positive the man could pull it off.
"Shatner is to enunciation what (Alex) Kovalev is to stickhandling, it's mesmerizing and unpredictable, impossible to know where he's going next with his unique pause-act talk-singing style. Plus he has a huge larger-than-life presence and people would just get a kick out of this Montreal boy being there."
Gravenor says the biggest obstacle at this point is time, since Shatner is busy filming Boston Legal. He figures the writers could, perhaps, write the anthem scenario in to one of the scripts.
Regardless of how it's done, Gravenor's initiative has garnered plenty of support.
"People have jumped on board with both feet. The idea clicks right away with everybody who hears it. I haven't been standing at Peel and St. Catherine with a clipboard but the small campaign I've waged from my small, unpainted home office seems successful."
I've got 150 supporters on a Facebook group and nearly 100 signatures on the petition on-line (just google "shatner petition").
If you want to see William Shatner sing the national anthem at the Bell Center, you can sign the on-line petition here. Gravenor hopes getting the word out will bring Shatner to center ice.
"I haven't been pushing hard but hopefully the support will keep snowballing."
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