Boca Raton – Today marks the kick-off of the National Hockey League’s Annual General Manager meeting, which takes place in Boca Raton, Florida. 30 NHL GM’s are set for three days of intense meetings, covering a wide array of topics that affect the game. Player safety will likely be the most-time intensive portion of the week-long meetings but another issue looms over the NHL and will be poised for some heated discussion later in the week: changing the song playlist at all NHL arenas.
Discussions about a potential playlist change have been an underreported topic and could become an even more divisive issue than concussions, adding back the red-line or new division re-alignments. As with most issues facing the hockey world, there is a camp of hard-line traditionalists bent on keeping the game true to its roots. There is also a small, progressive group looking to make fan-friendly changes.
“I mean, how many times do our fans need to hear ‘Cotton-Eyed Joe’ before they get absolutely sick of it?” said New York Islanders GM Garth Snow. “It’s ridiculous. Let’s just get some new songs already.” Snow has been at the forefront of this movement, along with Hurricane’s GM Jim Rutherford and Lightning GM Steve Yzerman.
“We play the same 6 songs at every arena in the country,” said Yzerman. “It’s just getting old.”
Snow, Rutherford and Yzerman are all former NHL players and know first-hand how annoying listening to “SandStorm” by DaRude, “Hells Bells” by AC-DC, o “Kickstart My Heart” by Motley Crue, can be over the course of a career. “I did some rough calculations and I think I’ve heard ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ by Guns n’ Roses approximately 1,962 times in my life,” recounted Rutheford. “If I ever see Axl Rose in public, it’s going to be bad for him.”
Brian Burke, Toronto Maple Leafs GM and staunch hockey purist, rejects the notion that a change needs to be made at all. “This game was founded on certain values: toughness, heart, and the fact that when a goal is scored the arena will play Song 2 by Blur. That is what hockey has always been aboot. That is what hockey continues to be aboot.”
The small subset of GM’s have already gained support from the NHL Player’s Union. “If the league is so worried about repetitive head trauma, then why do they make players listen to ‘Zombie Nation’ 12 times a night for 82+ games?” Phoenix Coyote and NHLPA Player’s Rep Shane Doan explains. “It’s a classic case of the league saying they want something, but taking no action.”
If approved by the GM’s, the playlist approval process would be moved to hearings by the Leagues Competition Committee. If a new playlist recommendation is accepted by the Competition Committee, it will go to the League’s Board of Governors for adoption proceedings.