It’s official: Hockey Night in Canada will never be the same.
It will still showcase some of the world’s best hockey, Ron Mclean will still play Abbott to Don Cherry’s Costello, and the Toronto Maple Leafs will continue to add decades to their Stanley Cup drought.
However, the show’s opening sequence will no longer be accompanied by the tune simply known as The Hockey Theme, considered by some to be Canada’s second national anthem.
This comes after CTV Inc. acquired the rights to the theme after the CBC, the network that airs HNC, failed to reach a deal with Copyright Music & Visuals, the agency that holds the theme’s rights.
Therefore, Detroit’s triumph over Pittsburg last week in the Stanley Cup finals marks the end of the theme’s 40-year run as the opening music for Canada’s longest running television show.
According to CBC Sports executive director Scott Moore, the CBC had been attempting to reach a deal for 14 months but was unable — or possibly unwilling — to fork over the $2.5 million to $3 million the agency was asking for the theme’s perpetual use.
An unsettled 2004 lawsuit regarding the theme’s use in ring tones, which Copyright Music & Visuals insisted be kept as a separate case, is believed to have created friction between the parties and thereby complicated the negotiations.
The announcement of CTV’s purchase of the theme, which was written by Vancouver-born Dolores Claman, now 80, and has accompanied Hockey Night in Canada since before most of the NHL’s present players were even born, will not fade away into oblivion.
CTV explained that it will use the theme for NHL games on TSN and RDS, as well as for broadcasts of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
To add insult to injury, the purchase came as the CBC attempted to resuscitate the failing negotiations by recruiting noted sports and entertainment lawyer Gord Kirke to mediate.
Perhaps merely a means to coerce Copyright Music & Visuals into signing an agreement, the CBC put up $100,000 in prize money to be awarded to the winner of a contest to compose a new theme. (If only more words rhymed with hockey and Canada!)
However, the search for a new theme may be short-lived since the son of Stompin’ Tom Connors has told the Canadian Press that his father is open to having his song, The Good Old Hockey Game, becoming Hockey Night in Canada’s new theme.