The National Hockey League playoffs are back!
Now, this could be very bad news for people who don't enjoy hearing the same old Gary Glitter riff belched through the loudspeakers of every NHL event ever, or people who loathe watching Nickelback besmirch Hockey Night In Canada broadcasts with that unfortunate cover of Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)," but the return of the playoffs — this year featuring four Canadian teams: the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks — needn't be a complete tragedy for music lovers.
The passionate emotions and the questionable "beards" that seem to come hand in hand with the playoffs have become genuine sources of inspiration to all sorts of artists from the most cutting edge of indie stars to the biggest of stadium acts.
Here are 12 of our favourite hockey songs — by everyone from Stompin' Tom and Tragically Hip to Kathleen Edwards and Super Furry Animals — to get you all riled up for the big playoff games.
Stompin' Tom Connors "The Hockey Song"
Nothing else comes close to Stompin' Tom's perfectly earnest and jocular celebration of hockey that takes listeners from the regular season straight through to the Stanley Cup finals. Whether it's being blasted from an arena's speakers, covered by the likes of The Hanson Brothers and Corb Lund, or sung by the Canadian country legend himself, "The Hockey Song" is the best song you can name about the good old hockey game. And the best song you can name about the good old hockey game is "The Hockey Song."
Bahamas "Hockey Teeth"
Most musical tributes to the aesthetic byproducts of hockey tend to focus on the mulletesque hair that the sport still manages to promote ("Hockey Hair" by Pansy Division, "Ice Hockey Hair" by Super Furry Animals, etc). But Bahamas prefers to reference the gapped teeth (or "summer teeth" in the parlance of Wilco fans) that can result from a good puck in the mouth or a good fall in this love song about a fella's perfect lady friend and her imperfect dental records.
Warren Zevon "Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song)"
American singer/songwriter and cult hero Warren Zevon truly captures the Canadian spirit in this ballad about Buddy, a farm boy who loves hockey but is only good for fighting. Following Buddy's career from frozen backyard rinks to the big leagues, "Hit Somebody!" digs deep into the existential angst of a goon who would give anything for the chance to score just one goal.
Tom Cochrane & Red Rider "Big League"
One night before a show, Tom Cochrane met a man backstage who had lost his son in a car accident the previous summer. Touched and inspired by the <a href="http://www.tomcochrane.info/songstory/bigleague.php" target="_hplink">story</a> of the boy who had been on the verge of a hockey scholarship when he died, and by the doting dad he left behind, Tom Cochrane sat down and wrote one of hockey's most iconic and heartbreaking songs, "Big League," in one pass.
Kathleen Edwards "Hockey Skates"
"Hockey Skates" isn't actually about its titular sport; it's about the complexities and strain of a broken relationship. It does briefly employ hockey as a metaphor for those issues, though, when Edwards sings "I am tired of playing defense, I don't even have hockey skates." And there might be some real life truth to this statement, as Edwards didn't exactly display skating proficiency when she fell while <a href="http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/musicians-lose-to-retired-starts-at-juno-hockey-game-1.623858" target="_hplink">attempting </a>a penalty shot during the 2011 Juno Cup.
Chixdiggit "(I Feel Like) Gerry Cheevers (Stitch Marks On My Heart)"
For a hockey fan there is, perhaps, no better way to describe a broken and battered heart than to compare it to the <a href="http://www.sikids.com/photos/9176/best-nhl-goalie-masks-1967-82/9" target="_hplink">famous mask </a>of Boston Bruins goalie Gerry Cheevers, which sported a stitch mark for every shot its owner had taken to the face. And that's exactly what Calgary punks Chixdiggit did with this tune.
Super Furry Animals "Ice Hockey Hair"
What's truly remarkable about "Ice Hockey Hair" isn't that a Welsh band saw fit to write about ice hockey at all (according to Wikipedia, Wales boasts three indoor arenas and Cardiff has at least two hockey teams), but that they sing about the largely infamous phenomenon of hockey hair favourably. They go so far as to say "it's instamatic and it has such flair," which makes us wonder if hockey hair looks different over there.
The Pursuit Of Happiness "Gretzky Rocks"
You want to know how much Canadians love hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, a.k.a. "The Great One?" When this adorable and glowing ditty was released in 1995, The Pursuit Of Happiness actually received a fair bit of grief because some people thought it wasn't complimentary enough of the hockey star and his family. They took issue with the fairly innocuous line "everyone hated Peter and Janet for trading the best player on the planet," a reference to Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington and Wayne's wife Janet Jones, who were cast as villains in his trade to the Los Angeles Kings.
The Rheostatics "The Ballad Of Wendel Clark Parts 1 And 2"
It took multiple parts and multiple songwriters within the band for The Rheostatics to properly capture both the goal-scoring and fighting prowess of Toronto Maple Leafs captain Wendel Clark in this mid-'80s Canadian cult hit. The song also features a little taste of the beloved Hockey Night In Canada theme.
Every song by The Zambonis
How can you pick just one great hockey song by Connecticut rockers (and Zamboni Company licensees) The Zambonis when they've managed to cover so many different aspects of the sport in their career? Whether you want tunes about gear ("The Helmet Song," "I'm A Puck") , love ("The Referee's Daughter," "I Got A Concussion (When I Fell For You)," goalies ("Goalie," "The Goalie Is Drunk") or their ice-making namesake ("Zamboni Race In Outer Space," "Zamboni Stuck In The Snow," "The Great Zamboni Of Devotion," "I Wanna Drive The Zamboni") The Zambonis have you covered.
The Tragically Hip "Fifty Mission Cap"
The narrator of this song knows the details of the strange life and death coincidences of Toronto Maple Leafs legend Bill Barilko because he stole them from a hockey card. Nowadays, most people know that Bill Barilko disappeared in 1951, that the last goal he ever scored won the Leafs the Stanley Cup, and that they didn't win another until 1962, the year he was discovered... because they stole it from the lyrics to "Fifty Mission Cap."
The Tragically Hip "Fireworks"
The Hip juxtapose cold war paranoia, burgeoning young love and national sporting pride in this clever tune about a boy and a girl who doesn't give a fuck about hockey and how they fall for each other during the all-important 1972 series between Russia and Canada.