Shawn Gates: Hockey & The Tragically Hip: Far From Strange Bedfellows…


For many of us, touchstones (if not tired stereotypes!) of Canadiana are quite easy to rattle off: beer, maple syrup, beavers, igloos and a wide array of slang that we can either accept we do (i.e., “eh?”) or aggressively deny (“Aboot” only crosses our lips in reference to footwear FYI…)!

The leader of the recognized Canadian identity, however, undoubtedly falls at the feet of our unofficial national sport: hockey.

My pointing out “unofficial national” packs a two-fold punch here. One, which is simply a point of fact, our official national sport is not hockey, but rather, lacrosse. Even for those who already hold this nugget of info, can we not agree that generally it is hard to find someone who would not believe that Canada is more defined by its unofficial game than our designated sport?

This train of thought leads nicely into point two, which takes the aforementioned defining of Canadian sport and moves it’s spotlight onto music. Specifically, from outside of our boarders, Canada is defined musically not by what we “officially” hold dear, but more by the “unofficial” designations as suggested by US and/or, to a lesser extent, European sales and charting.

Case in point, ask someone to name a Canadian artist or group and what will you get in return? At worst you get Justin Beiber. Most people could probably name Celine, Shania, Nickleback, Avril Lavigne, and others of their ilk. On occasion you’ll get a Rush, Neil Young, Guess Who or Bachman-Turner Overdrive. For better or worse, depending on your taste, each of these responses are acceptable and true to the question, and yet at the same time miss out on who many consider to truly be the definition of Canadian music: The Tragically Hip.

It was announced earlier in the week that “The Hip”, will be playing a free show at Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto next Wednesday in the lead-up to the season puck drop for the Leafs and Habs, a choice met by many with a resounding “Of course!”. Indeed, both hockey and The Tragically Hip, while not the officially recognized as torchbearers of our nation in sport or music on the basis of the definitions I laid out, are certainly accepted as “The People’s Champions” of their respective domains. They are certainly not strange bedfellows either, crossing paths in various manners.

First off, the band hails from Kingston, Ontario, a city believed to be one of the potential birthplaces of hockey, where the oldest ongoing hockey rivalry occurs (Annual games between Queens University and the Royal Military College of Canada since 1886), and the city in which the Memorial Cup, the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) championship was first conceived and awarded. Need more? How about being the birthplace of hockey players and personalities such as Don Cherry, Doug Gilmour, Kirk Muller, Wayne Cashman and Ken Linseman, among others. Not too shabby for a city with a population of approximately 150,000, no?

Lead singer of The Hip, Gord Downie, is the godson of Hockey Hall of Famer, and former Bruins coach and GM Harry Sinden! He sports his Bruins association proudly:

The band has also included either references to, or made complete songs about, hockey over theiur career. The song “50 Mission Cap” is a direct reference to the loss of Leafs player Bill Barilko in a plane crash, while the place the sport holds in the life of a kid growing up, and how priorities change, sets the tone for the song “Fireworks”:

Or how about this beauty?:

Hockey aside, they’ve just got a great catalogue of tunes that anyone who hasn’t had the chance to check them out should try out. Here’s a few of my standouts:

And for those who want to hear something utterly bizzare, yet strangely entertaining, I give you the “Killer Whale” version of “New Orleans Is Sinking” (NSFW as a warning!):

So a little hockey and music hear for y’all to chew on this Friday! For those who are well versed in the Hip, hopefully it gave you some good stuff to listen to, and for those who weren’t, hope you’re open to giving it a go!

Cheers all, have a great weekend, and only five more sleeps….!

[Also a reminder for the Philly fans: you have a signing coming up! Check here for the details…]


Do you have a piece of treasured memorabilia that has a great story behind it? Let me know and you can be featured in an article. Doesn’t matter how big or small the piece is, how valuable it may be, or whether it’s a common item or more oddball. If you think it has a story, contact me via the information below and we’ll chat. In the meantime, check out some previous “Display Case” articles via the links below to see what others have submitted in the past…


Shawn Gates Follow @ShawnHockeybuzz

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______________________________________________________________________ Previous “Display Case” Articles #1: The “Frankenstick!” #2: Your desk has the right to remain collectable! #3: Have Pads, Will Travel #4: Pick a Pekka (Rinne) Autographed Mask #5: Ted Lindsay Gets Kronwalled? #6: The Only Thing We Have To Fehr Is Fehr Himself #7: “Hungary” For Team Canada Swag #8: The Soldiers Kid and “The Kid” #9: Fan Appreciation & Player Humility Via The ’72 Series #10: Bobby Orr and….Birth Control?!?!?! #11: Johnny Bower The “Portrait” Of Health At 88!!! #12: Scotty Bowman – Stick Detective!!! #13: Touch ‘Em All Joe!!! #14: Joey and Sergei’s European (Lockout) Adventure!!! #15: I’d Give The Jersey Off My Back For You… #16: The Case Of The 1940’s Era Leafs #17: Scrapping The History Of The Isles… #18: Gretzky “Re-Signs” in Edmonton #19: Gilmour Is Such A Caricature!!! Previous “Who Am I?” Articles #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21 , #22 , #23, #24, #25, #26, #27, #28, #29, #30, #31, #32, #33, #34, #35, #36, #37, #38, #39 Previous ”On The Market” Articles Gretzky’s 1000th Goal Stick Andrew Shaw’s Cup Final Stitches Previous “WHAT IF…?” Articles #1 What If The NHL Contracted To 24 Teams? #2 What If Quebec Traded Lindros To The Rangers Instead Of The Flyers? #3 What If Calgary Drafted Martin Brodeur Instead Of Trevor Kidd? #3a What If Calgary Drafted Martin Brodeur Instead Of Trevor Kidd?: A RESPONSE #4 What If The WHA Never Existed? #5 What If The Position Of Rover Had Not Been Eliminated? #6 What If Pittsburgh Had Not Been Awarded A Team In 1967? #7 What If Steve Smith Had Not Scored In His Own Net In Game 7? #8 What If The NHL Had a Cross-Conference Playoff Structure? #9 What If The NHL Asked For Fan Ideas For Improving The Game?? #10 What If Henderson Had Missed The Net In Game 8? #11 What If You Could Sneak Into A Stanley Cup Celebration? #12 What If The NHL Returned To Quebec City? #13 What if Toronto and Edmonton Had Traded Teams in 1981? #14 What if You Could Create Your Own Hockey Dream Team? #15 What if An Active Player in the NHL “Came Out” as Gay? #16 You Could Assemble Your Own Fantasy Pick-up Hockey Team? #17 Hockey Had A Champions League Tournament? #18 Team “X” Did NOT Make Trade “Y” At The Deadline? #19 Gretzky Had Been Called For he High Stick? #20 Star Players Hadn’t Had Their Careers Cut Short? #21 Mark Cuban Owned An NHL Team? #22 Should Divisional Play Be Overhauled? #23 You Won The Lottery Using Jersey Numbers? #24 You Could Change Any Teams Name? #25 You Could Own Any Odd Piece Of Hockey Memorabilia? #26 You Could Pick One Silver Lining From The Lockout? Previous “Points To Ponder” Articles NHLs Latest Concession Does Not Pass The Stink Test Cancelled Winter Classic Is About NHL Spite, Not Pragmatism Fehr’s Take On Offer Not Reflecting Optimism Of Fans? Hybrid Icing: An AHL Experiment With An NHL Future? Hockey Writers: Bottom Of The Barrel?!?!? 161 Players Overrate The Need To Offer Their Opinion East vs West: Which Conference is Best? Previous “Would You Rather…? #1, #2 Previous “According to Twitter” Articles NHL – NHLPA “Negotiations” Olympic Gold Medal Game Olympic Hockey Kovalchuk Trade Previous “Very Random Thoughts” Articles August 9, 2012 August 1, 2012 July 24, 2012 Previous “Hockey Videos” 2012: Week 1 2012: Week 2 2012: Week 3 2012: Week 4 2012: Week 5 2012: Week 6 2012: Week 7 Pain for Pleasure National Anthems Dion Phaneuf Hockey Fans Hockey Christmas Nature Versus Sports Goalie Fights! Nature Versus Sports: Winter Classic 2014 Edition Upcoming Signings Click Here Previous “Who Knew?” Articles #1: Gordie Howe #2: The Zamboni #3: Maurice “The Rocket” Richard #4: Ron Hextall #5: Stanley Cup Abuse, Neglect and Versatility #6: The Puck #7: Don Cherry #8: Cam Neely #9: The Early Years of Les Canadiens #10: Hockey Superstitions! #11: Olympic Hockey Pt1 #12: Jarome Iginla #13: Mark Messier #14: Johnny Bower Previous Product Previews & Reviews 2010-11 Donruss Hockey 2010-11 Panini Score Hockey 2010-11 Panini Certified Hockey 2010-11 ITG Ultimate Memorabilia, 10th Edition 2010-11 ITG Heroes & Prospects 2010-11 Panini Pinnacle Hockey 2011 UD National Hockey Card Day 2011 UD All Star Weekend Redemptions 2010-11 ITG Between The Pipes Ultimate Set Build INDEX Previous “Devil’s In The Details” Articles #1: Beware the “Factory Sealed Box”! #2: The Price Guide” #3: What IS A Rookie Card? #4: Beware the Money Order! #5: The Counterfeit Gretzky RC Previous Box Breaks 2010-11 Score Hockey Previous “Devil’s Advocate” Articles Gary Bettman and the Phoenix Coyotes Previous “Town Without A Team” Articles Booger Hollow, Arkansas Hell, Michigan Previous “Hockey Psychology” Articles State Dependent Learning Arousal and Performance Depression

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