Edmonton Oilers fans sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” almost as well as they belt out “O Canada”
For NHL games where an American team faces off against a Canadian one, it’s customary for both country’s national anthems be performed. When the Anaheim Ducks visited Edmonton to play the Oilers in Game 3 of their Stanley Cup playoff series, Canadian country music star Brett Kissel stepped to the mic to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in honor of Edmonton’s American guests. But the mic didn’t cooperate.
So Kissel decided to lead the most unlikely of sing-alongs. He raised his hands in the air to call on the 18,000 Canadians to do the singing for him, confident enough that the crowd would know the words and melody to America’s anthem. And the Oilers fans didn’t disappoint, belting out a rousing version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Yesterday’s sing-along brought back echoes of the 2006 playoff series between these two teams, which first made Edmonton fans famous for singing an anthem. That year, when the Ducks and Oilers played in Anaheim, American fans actually booed the Canadian national anthem during its Stateside performance. So, when the series went to Edmonton, the Oilers fans responded, not by booing, but by showing respect for their neighbor and pride in their country. When “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed, they cheered. Then singer Paul Lorieau sang the first few lines of “O Canada,” and as he sensed the crowd was singing along full-throated, he hoisted his microphone above his head and let the fans take over for him. The moment became legendary in Canada, and it turned into a tradition for the Oilers. Throughout the rest of the 2006 playoffs, the crowd sang the anthem, fueling Edmonton’s improbable run to the Stanley Cup Finals, where the team hadn’t been in 16 years.
The Oilers fans may have helped get their opponents too pumped up yesterday though, with the American team winning the game 6-3 to take a lead in the series. Let’s see if Ducks fans practice up on “O Canada” to sing it when the series returns to Anaheim.