Sunday, August 11, 2013

NHL Music Scene: Shake it Up

Like a 2000 automobile with a vibrating steering wheel and uneven tire wear, the NHL needed to realign its divisions. The league also needs to reinvent the in– game music experience. Boston needs more Cars, and the NHL needs more of what DJ T. Campbell does in the Motor City.

Like Campbell, the marketing department at the Staples Center is on the right track; the Los Angeles Kings ask their fans to vote for the music, and they publish the playlist. So too, do the New York Rangers; the musical lineup sometimes includes Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.”

Why don’t other teams ask their fans what they want to hear, or least consider giving “Crazy Train” (sorry, Ozzie) and Black Betty (no disrespect, Ram Jam) a rest?

To jazz things up in each of the NHL’s arenas, I propose that each home team not only provide a forum, an app or whatever to prompt fans for input but to also that they play tunes that pay homage to the locals. Kind of like the restaurant scene these days, the local farm–to–fork movement. Big name bands and lesser-known indie groups would all get airplay.

I dig the notion that music is a universal connector, so why not provide fans with alternatives, and not just alternative rock. Or jock rock. Or hair bands. Give the in–game music mavens a chance to mix their own music and collaborate with fans.

Let’s start with the Atlantic Division.

Boston Bruins: My proposition is almost as simple as A–B–C. I’m talking about Aerosmith, Boston and the aforementioned Cars. No other arena gets to play “Sweet Emotion,” “More Than a Feeling” or “Shake it Up.” Territorial rights is, I believe, a start. How about infusing the arena with what Boston–based band The Heartsleeves calls “neoeclectic soul.” Lead singer Jared Lucas Nathanson wrote a song about the New England Patriots, so I’m confident he could submit a hockey fan- friendly tune to the Bruins, if only that online opportunity was available. A song or two from Western Mass: Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, anyone? I recommend “The Bear.” Or back closer to Boston, consider Nancy Beaudette. “When the Last Whistle Blows” isn’t about referees or hockey, but it’s upbeat and her voice is “Something Beautiful.”

Buffalo Sabres: I love the Goo Goo Dolls—went to their concert in Manchester, NH a few weeks ago. Great show.  But “Slide,” “Better Days” and the Buffalo band’s latest, “Rebel Beat,” should not be played in the TD Garden or anywhere else but in the First Niagara Center. How about Natalie Merchant, born in Jamestown, NY? She isn’t known for any raucous, raise-the-roof kind of music, but it would be nICE if 19,070 Sabres fans were treated to a 10,000 Maniacs song, maybe a melody from Campfire Songs? Or a sentimental song, say “Reilly,” from Attica, NY’s Penny Whiskey?

Detroit Red Wings: I’ve never been to “the Joe,” so I couldn’t tell you if “Wango Tango” or other stuff by Ted Nugent, a.k.a., “The Motor City Madman” is played. I imagine Mr. Campbell is way ahead of me here. Has Octopus Al (the Red Wings mascot) put feelers out to the local college music scene? Maybe a nascent garage band could be featured once a month.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Great job with barefoot hockey video featuring “Footloose” (and grand color commentary that includes references to Adam Foote and Toe Blake). Play your BNL and Bryan Adams, for sure, but give your fans a voice when it comes to music choice. I suggest Silvergun and Spleen or another “Band of the Day” listed at

Florida: Tough call on who gets to play Gloria Estefan and/or the Miami Sound Machine. Maybe both the Panthers as the Lightning both call Central Florida home. Who claims Tom Petty and Sister Hazel, both with roots in Gainesville? I do know the team in Sunrise publishes its playlist. The Panthers might look southwest to its in–state rivals for guidance on in–game entertainment, however: The team in Tampa has a music man, Sean Bovelksy. I’ve not yet been to a game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum (or the BB&T Center in Sunrise), but I bet Mr. Bovelksy has a good beat on things.

Montreal Canadiens: “Shippin’ Up to Boston” or anything else by the Dropkick Murphys ought to be outlawed at le Centre Bell. Habs fans have a forum (but not a Forum) to discuss their musical tastes, but the marketing department for Les Glorieux doesn’t appear to post playlists. I like what “Stevo” at AllHabs.Net had going in 2010 but would like to see more initiative from the team. For example, the Canadiens could play Claude Cormier’s song, “Mon Hockey,” at least until Quebec City gets a team. Perhaps Puckbite (happy third anniversary, J. –P.) can offer further insight or recommend a song or artist, but I’m all for hoisting the Cranes into the musical spotlight. I believe in “Believe.”

Ottawa Senators: Not to be upstaged by DJ Campbell or Mr. Bovelsky, Alex Marchand has a good thing going in O–Town. Fans can request songs via Twitter. How many have requested Hall & Oates’s “You Make My Dreams Come True,” quite possibly the greatest get-your-groove-thing-a-going song of all time. But rules is rules. Daryl and John hail from Philly, so the Flyers would lay stake to “Private Eyes, “Wait for Me” and Sara Smile.

More on the Flyers and other teams later.
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