Thumbs up to anthems, down to Murray's about-face

Apr 20, 2015

Thumbs-up-to-anthems,-down-to-Murray's-about-face

The Stanley Cup Playoffs have just started, and already we have experienced one of the best moments.

Thumbs up to Jim Cornelison, the Chicago Blackhawks' anthem singer at the United Center. I hesitate to make a "best of" list of his spine-tingling Star Spangled Banner renditions, because they're all great, but the first time he makes the ice tremble beneath his feet at the start of a playoff game, it feels and sounds different. He's probably better at night, or when the Hawks are poised to clinch a series, or in the Stanley Cup Final, but that was hard to imagine yesterday.

It was the middle of the afternoon. The Nashville Predators were Chicago's opponents. Nothing special, really, until Cornelison was introduced to make it seem that way, to announce, as it were, the arrival of the first round of the playoffs. In the past, I have wondered about the need for anthems prior to sporting events. I stopped doing that the first time I heard Cornelison. And now I think about anthems when I'm trying to decide the best match-up for a Stanley Cup Final. I wouldn't mind seeing Montreal's Ginette Reno and “O Canada” give the guy in Chicago a run for his money.

Thumbs down to Buffalo Sabres' GM Tim Murray, but not for his expressions of disappointment at "losing" the NHL Draft Lottery; comments that have brought him criticism from other corners. The entire hockey world knew that Buffalo lusted after Connor McDavid - name a team that didn't - and there's nothing wrong with admitting that being in the driver's seat and getting out-lucked by Edmonton was a downer.

Murray should have stuck with that unfiltered honesty. Instead, he tried to cover it with the suggestion that - had the Sabres won the right to pick first - their draft meetings might have produced the opinion that Jack Eichel was the right choice. Thus, Murray wasn't disappointed at losing McDavid, he was just sorry he lost the chance to decide between the two highest-rated players. Eichel doesn't need to be told he might have gone No. 1. He'll roll his eyes if Murray says that to his face. Like the rest of us. 

By Dave Hodge