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Can the CBC Make Hockey Fans Forget Tradition?

The NHL hockey season is upon us again, which means we’ll soon find out if the CBC has managed to recover from its Hockey Night In Canada theme song gaffe.

CBC, as you’ll recall, sparked a national outrage when it announced it was dropping the hallowed theme last spring. The masses were soothed once the rights to the song were snatched up by rival network TSN-no doubt, though, to the CBC’s chagrin.

They quickly rebounded with a campaign to win the public’s favour back: a chance to create the new Hockey Night In Canada theme.

Canada’s Hockey Anthem Challenge called for song submissions written by the public, which are now posted for listening on the contest website. Starting October 4, Canadians will vote to choose the new theme.

For achieving short-term public relations goals, the campaign works. It’s interactive and it shows the CBC cares about its viewer’s opinions.

For the long term, though, it ignores the elephant in the room: the original theme is revered by Canadians, as TSN ‘s Rick Brace said, as a national treasure. No contest in the world can compensate for the rich tradition and powerful association of the original.

I don’t think Canadians particularly care which network owns it, either, just so long as it still rings loud and clear every wintry Saturday night. And in many ways, the contest just draws attention to how badly the CBC fumbled the ball-er, puck-on the situation.

Still, the activity on the contest site has been heavy. The public’s choice will be unveiled on October 11. We’ll see if the CBC took lemons and made lemonade.


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