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Hockey Night in Canada’s Last Song

This article has been submitted by the debuting (and female) Tieja MacLaughlin.

So it‘s official…CBC has dropped its legendary Hockey Night in Canada “dunt-da-DUNT-da-dunt” theme song, and in turn, killed a small piece of each and every Canadian. No longer can we Canucks look forward to the excitement of getting all jacked up at the first sound of this heavenly music; because there will be no more humming along, there will be no more intoxicated sing-alongs, and lets just face it, you might as well just loose the Saturday night hockey hype all together without an anthem we can all get excited about.

Hubert T. Lacroix, President of CBC, announced last week that the network would be moving in a “new direction” with their HNIC theme. Unofficially recognized as Canada’s second national anthem, the song stood to celebrate its 40th year on air in the upcoming NHL season. Due to “contractual difficulties,” CBC chose not to renegotiate the terms of their contract with the song’s composer, Dolores Claman.

Dolores wrote the refrain in 1968 in response to a contest an advertising agency in Toronto held looking for a “powerful commercial jingle suitable for hockey.” Apparently aspiring to be the musical director for any and everything Canadian, she also composed that annoying “Ontari-ari-ario” jingle popular in the 70‘s; comparable to the also ever-so-irritating little ditty “There’s no place like this” of today’s generation.

The song’s current license agreement expired after the recent Wings’ Stanley Cup victory ending the 07/08 season. Rumor has it, this had been quite a long-standing, dramatic, behind the scenes battle spanning over the past six years. It had only recently been brought to the media forefront with the inability to reach an agreement, in regards to copyrights.

Despite licensing terms consistent with those of the past four decades, a compromise could not be met between the two parties. John R. Ciccone, the copyright specialist who works on behalf of Dolores, said she was more than willing to reach an arrangement, but claimed the network was unreasonable. On the other hand, the network made Dolores out to be a cheapskate hoping to walk away with not a penny less than she could get her hands on. This proves a rather interesting point considering Dolores earns a measly $500 per HNIC broadcast. This,
compared to The Who for example, who receive hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop in royalties lending their theme to CSI. Moreover, I’m sure a looming lawsuit filed against CBC didn’t help matters. In 2004, Dolores sued the public broadcaster alleging that they used her theme in broadcasts not covered in their license agreement.

Prior to the current theme song, the network had tried several others, none of which ever really caught on though. Many average Canadians and hockey greats alike have expressed how much the theme means to them. Even the Great One himself declared, “…the greatest song in Canada is the theme song to Hockey Night in Canada…to this day it still sends a shiver up my spine when I hear the song come on.” An online petition also racked up over 10,000 signatures hoping to preserve a little bit of history.

Its’ rights were sold to rival network CTV for what is said to be well over six figures. It will now be heard before NHL games aired on TSN, which is owned by CTV. TSN…for real??! My problem here lies in the idea of disassociating Don Cherry and Ron MacLean with “dunt-da-DUNT-da-dunt.” Not to mention, my basic cable television likes channel 5 way better than 30. Now TSN thinks they’ll be preserving this piece of Canadian nostalgia with their outbid? I’m sorry…it will never be the same. Infamous super-patriotic American, Steven Colbert gave his two-cents on the issue during The Colbert Report (see below for a good laugh).

But just as Dolores won her honors, yet another contest will be held to find a new HNIC theme. At least five semi-finalists will be chosen from across Canada. They will then be presented worldwide on a series similar to that of American Idol. Hopefuls will be critiqued by a panel of celebrity judges, the public will vote, and the two finalists will go head-to-head. The winner will be awarded $100,000 cash, and given half the royalties to the composition (with the other half donated to the minor leagues). Eager composers have until August 31st to submit their entries. So best of luck, young Mozzarts.


This article has been submitted by the debuting (and female) Tieja MacLaughlin.

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3 Responses to “Hockey Night in Canada’s Last Song”

  1. Paul D Says:

    The public will only vote for a tune similar to the old theme, as will I.
    Has Mr.Cherry said anything about this issue yet?
    BTW nice debut. There should be more female writers on the bench.

  2. Tieja Says:

    Thank you :)

    And unfortunatly I couldn’t find anything in regards to Don’s opinion on the subject, I am assuming he is being smart and plans on just staying out of the whole issue…but that’s just speculation.

  3. Charles Hansing Says:

    CTV and Global blow goats. All they do is hijack American networks. Now CTV has hijacked the theme song - this is not what simsubbing was created for!!! Simsubbing was created so they could invest in original Canadian shows, not outbid the CBC for the rights to the theme song. Shame on them and the CRTC for letting simsubbing to continue to happen whereas it’s clearly not working for what it was intended for!!!

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