Posted by: Chelsea Novak | June 5, 2008

It’s not Hockey Night In Canada without the theme song

The Globe & Mail reported today that the CBC has not renewed the license agreement for the use of the “Hockey Night In Canada” theme and are investigating other options for the show.

Now either this is an evil marketing scheme by the CBC to threaten a beloved national icon, get us all riled up and upset and then look like a hero when they capitulate and renew the license or someone has decided it’s time to reband, rebuild and regrow the CBC and they’ve decided to start by changing one of the few things they have working for them. Either way there is someone epically stupid in charge at the CBC.

I didn’t grow up with hockey. I had more of a football/basketball/Formula 1 kind upbringing, but I knew the “Hockey Night in Canada” theme song and I loved it. I didn’t even know why. I used to play double bass with the youth orchestra and local symphony and when we would visit area schools to do some music education, we’d play the “Hockey Night In Canada” theme. The kids would go crazy. They loved it.

Now that M has gotten me into the practice of actually watching the sport, I like the theme song even more. I won’t let him change the channel during the theme song (I also won’t let him change the channel during O Canada) as hearing it makes me think about how my grandparents watched “Hockey Night In Canada” every Saturday (in fact the only reason they even got a TV was to watch Leafs games).

There’s a part of me that thinks, that since the song was introduced in 1968 that this may be a desperate and superstitous ploy by MLSE to break the Stanley Cup curse. Is it a coincidence that the Leafs haven’t won the cup since the “Hockey Night In Canada” theme was written? And I hope this isn’t a tactic of the owner of the song trying to play the public to get the CBC to sort out her legal issues with them, though I suspect that it is.

I hope they wise up and don’t change it. I’m not saying it’s going to stop me from watching hockey, but it’s going to diminsh my experience and that’s not what entertainment should do.

Update: For anyone out there like me who looks forward to hearing “Hello Canada and hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland“* lead into the HNIC theme on a cold winter Saturday, the venerable Graeme has started a petition on his blog. Go sign up now. I don’t care if you’re eating your lunch. Do it!


*starts at 1:45 in the video


  1. There’s an online petition up now for folks who want to save the theme:

  2. I hate to say it, but I think you need to consider a third possibility besides an evil CBC marketing scheme or a decision to rebrand HNIC.

    That third possibility is that negotiations aren’t going well for the copyright holders so they are appealing to the public to raise ire against the CBC. As the Globe article says, “a lowball offer … prompted the temporary collapse of year-long negotiations” — which means the CBC hasn’t actually decided to change the theme, they’re just having trouble reaching a deal with the copyright holders. Now the copyright holders are negotiating through the media.

    To wit: “CBC Sports executive director Scott Moore … said he believed negotiations were still on when [copyright representative] Mr. Ciccone went public with word of a failed deal. “

    In my mind, the fact that there’s a lawsuit hanging in the air between the CBC and the copyright holders only doubles the likelihood that this is all a public-relations ploy.

  3. Indeed it appears to be that way. So I knew it was a PR scheme… I just hadn’t indentified the correct evil party. 🙂

    The very fact that the press release came out the day after the finals ended smacked of manipulation.

  4. If you still want to blame the CBC (I know I do!), you can easily fault them for taking too long to respond to the story as it broke. By the time they got their side of the story out, the media was full of the other side’s version of events.

    If you want to blame the Globe (I know I do!), they never should have posted that story until they got a real response from the CBC. (‘I need to check on this’ is not a response.)

    Basing an entire story around one side’s version of events is pretty irresponsible. The full story, as it was written up for the paper and as now appears online, made it all much clearer. What were they thinking when they posted that early version that sparked all the outrage? I wish I could answer that.


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