Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Like a Dagger to the Heart

vince vaughn laugh roberto luongo
Our scene opens with Roberto Luongo curled up in a ball, rocking back and forth in a white padded room. He has bags under his eyes and looks like he’s been awake for days. He tries to focus on what his therapist said: “the seawall, Roberto, think of the seawall”.

He begins to imagine himself riding along Vancouver’s gorgeous seawall, circling Stanley Park without a care in the world. The sun is shining, there is a slight, comfortable breeze, and his hair is slicked back with the perfect amount of grease. “Raindrops keep falling on my head” plays as he romps through this relaxing dream.

But slowly, quietly, something begins to build.

do do da do do da do do da do da do da

No, Roberto, you must fight it. Sunshine, lollipops, rainbows. Think of rainbows!

But it grows louder.

Do Do Da Do Do Da Do Do Da Do Da Do Da

Finally, it becomes unbearable. He can no longer block it out, just like the pucks he will suddenly be fighting. He is not strong enough; the song is playing on an endless loop in his mind.


The Fratellis might as well be in the room with him, playing Chelsea Dagger with the same cruel malice that pours from the crowd at the United Centre when the Blackhawks score.

Images of Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane going top shelf are flashing through Luongo’s mind. Dave Bolland is slashing a Sedin. “Not Henrik,” shouts Luongo, “he’s the pretty one!” Vince Vaughn is laughing. Everyone is laughing.

Cut back to the padded room. Poor Roberto is still on the ground, rocking back and forth.

The Asylum for Broken Goalies has a strict no music, no red light policy, but it doesn’t matter: wherever Roberto goes he hears that song, always accompanied by a flashing red light.

Dr. Mark Recchi shakes his head, makes a note on his clipboard, and walks along to the next room. “Ah, Mr. Cloutier, how are we feeling today?”

A goal song is a powerful thing.

Goal songs have always primarily been used to pump up the home crowd after a goal. Rock and Roll Pt 2, Song 2, and Zombie Nation have a long history of being played in NHL arenas, much to the delight of fans. But, recently, with Chicago’s use of Chelsea Dagger, the goal song has also taken on a new purpose: to torment and taunt the opposition.

Chelsea Dagger is fun, upbeat, and infectiously catchy, that is unless you’re a member of the opposing team, then it’s nothing more than annoying and frustrating. And that's the beauty of it.

Just ask the Vancouver Canucks.

Imagine that song being played constantly after each time your team gives up a goal. It builds slowly and you know what's coming. Then the shriek sets off the rollicking, mindless do's. That’s the stuff of nightmares, and probably forced Luongo to seek counseling.

Because of the huge success of Chelsea Dagger, teams around the league decided to change their own goal songs this year, trying to mimic the atmosphere in Chicago following a goal.

Unfortunately, this led many teams to use The Whip, a song by Locksley, an indie band from Madison, Wisconsin.

The Whip is a bad knock-off of Chelsea Dagger. Instead of do’s and da’s there are whoa’s and oh’s. Sounds promising, but really, it misses the mark by a wide margin.

Whoa oh-oh, oh oh oh, oh-oh oh-oh.

That’s the hook. They repeat it eight times to start the song and it’s what teams use following a goal. It's an attempt to get people chanting and dancing. And that’s part of the problem.

The song is a little too much fun in a nice way. It’s upbeat and catchy, but there’s something crucial missing. Chelsea Dagger was so great because there was a real mocking quality to it. It was fun, but most of that fun was coming at the expense of someone else. There was chanting and dancing, but there was an underlying venom. As in, we know this song is rattling you and we hope it ruins your career type of venom.

In contrast, the Whip is something a little girl would sing while playing hopscotch. It does not belong in an NHL arena.

What’s truly unforgiveable is that multiple teams use it. Toronto, Columbus, Detroit, Dallas, and Colorado have all chosen the Whip to punctuate their goals this season. Vancouver uses it as the song that plays after a win.

That’s over 20 per cent of the league. Was there a discount at HMV on bad indie rock bands that the NHL decided was too good to pass up? (Hey, we’re in a recession, you’ve got to save money where you can.)

Where’s the originality? 

Goal songs should be team specific. They should only be heard in one arena in the league and that song should become intrinsically linked with a team. 

When you think of the Hawks you think of their young stars scoring in bunches, and when you think of that, you hear Chelsea Dagger playing in your mind. No NHL fan will ever be able to hear Chelsea Dagger now without thinking of the Blackhawks. That's the way it should be

When people hear The Whip they just think how unfortunate it was that this terrible indie band was chosen to ruin everyone's fun after a goal.

Goal songs need to become part of a team’s identity.  And since it plays after every goal, it should be something good. It needs to be something a team and its fans want to hear, and more importantly, it should be something the opposition and its fans hate to hear.

Much like in Chicago, the song should try to represent how the team plays. Chelsea Dagger is upbeat and energetic, just like the Hawks. It also has that great taunting quality, which is perfect as well because Chicago is one of the yappiest teams in the league.

Teams using songs by bands from their city is also a great choice. Detroit really needs to play Search and Destroy by the Stooges after their goals. Badass.

Teams could also create their own goal song, much like the New York Rangers did, rather than re-use the same knock-off song the whole league plays.

The Rangers’ song gives the crowd an opportunity to chant (more like yell) and is a little more aggressive than Chelsea Dagger, which makes for a more intimidating building, especially provided how loud Madison Square Garden can get.

The Whip provides nothing. It's too slow to be a good pump up song (ala Zombie Nation) and it's too harmless to taunt anybody. It's some cheap wannabe Chelsea Dagger that a bunch of NHL teams have embraced because they're too cheap and too dull to create something original themselves.

Roberto Luongo will never forget listening to Chelsea Dagger on a seemingly continuous loop in Chicago. Fortunately, everyone will forget The Whip; fans will just remember that bland song that for some reason played in almost every NHL arena.

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