The Hockey Theme

The Hockey Theme

"The Hockey Theme" is a Canadian theme song written in 1968 by Dolores Claman. It has been referred to as Canada's second national anthem. [cite news | last=Jones | first=Tom | title=Country's heirloom reflects on Lightning | language=English | publisher=St. Petersburg Times | year=2005 | date=2005-11-05 | url= | accessdate=2007-04-12]

The theme was associated with CBC Television's "Hockey Night in Canada", and Télévision de Radio-Canada's "La Soirée du hockey" from 1968 until 2008, when the CBC announced that the negotiations to renew their licence or purchase the theme had been unsuccessful and that they would run a national contest to find a new theme song. The rights were then purchased by rival broadcaster CTV in perpetuity. Beginning in the fall of 2008 the theme will be heard on hockey broadcasts on the CTV-owned TSN and RDS sports channels, and will also be heard on the CTV network's coverage of ice hockey at the 2010 Winter Olympics.


In 1968, the CBC commissioned McLaren Advertising to create a new promotional tune for "Hockey Night in Canada". ["Swan song for Hockey Night in Canada theme?", "Toronto Sun", June 5, 2008] McLaren contracted Dolores Claman, a classically-trained composer who had produced a number of successful jingles, promotional songs and television theme music, [ [ Claman, Dolores] , "Encyclopedia of Music in Canada"] to write the tune. Claman had never seen a hockey game in person and wrote the tune imagining Roman gladiators wearing skates. "It just arrived in my head," she recalled several decades later. Claman said she wrote her song to reflect the narrative arc of a hockey game from the arrival on the rink, to the battle of the game, to the trip home, "plus a cold beer."Cheney, Peter, "Hockey theme 'wasn't hard to do,' composer says", "Globe and Mail", June 12, 2008] Since the song was originally classified as an advertising jingle Claman did not originally get residuals but only a one-time creative fee of $800. The piece was originally performed by a 20-member orchestra.

In the 1970s, CBC began using the tune as the standard introduction for the show and Claman was entitled to music-use licence payments of between $2,000 and $10,000 each year. After she was advised by her agent in 1993 to licence the song, she earned approximately $500 per broadcast.


The theme has been updated several times:
*Mid-1980s—A big-band version of the theme was used. [ [ Intro Soirée du Hockey 1986] YouTube video posted by Funebrae]
*1988—An updated "rock" version of the theme, the version most closely associated with the era when the program was titled "Molson Hockey Night in Canada on CBC". [ [ HNIC Playoff Open CBC French 1989] YouTube video posted by retrodan5]
**This version was edited in the early 1990s to remove the big-band interlude from the main-title theme. This version was used by the CBC for a few seasons, and by Radio-Canada until "La Soirée du hockey" was discontinued in 2004. [ [ La Soirée du hockey] , YouTube]
**In the mid-1990s, another edited version of the main theme was introduced, which replaced the sponsor beds with other music previously played over introductory highlights. [ [ HNIC—Intro 1997] YouTube video posted by theSameRetroWindsor] This version, along with other musical cues introduced in 1988, were used by the CBC until the end of the Molson era in 1998. This cut of the main theme (but not the other cues) was reintroduced at the start of the 2004 playoffs and used until 2008.
* 1998—After Labatt's took over as title sponsor, a new, mostly synthesized version of the theme was introduced. This was used for two seasons. [ [ HNIC's Opening] , YouTube video posted by sharitabata (contrary to the poster's assertion, was not used in the main titles in 2005)]
* 2000—Another "big-band"-style version, with a significantly different sound compared to previous versions, was introduced. [ [ HNIC's Opening for 2000-2001] , YouTube] It is believed that this version was dropped quickly due to complaints by Claman. [ [ Dolores Claman statement of claim against CBC] , paragraph 35]
* 2001—A new synthesized version was introduced. This version was used in the opening until spring 2004 (when the 1988 version was reintroduced), and used in most "HNIC" advertising until 2008. [ [ HNIC's Opening for 2002 to 2004] YouTube]

In the spring of 2007, the CBC introduced a new set of musical cues for commercial-break stings and other transitions based on the Claman theme.

It is believed that the CBC continues to own most or all of the above-noted recordings even though it no longer has rights to use the theme itself. CTV's Rick Brace said that a new arrangement of the song will be prepared for TSN/RDS broadcasts. According to Brace the network, "will have to re-orchestrate it... It will still be the same music but it will be a different arrangement. It will be exactly the same tune." [ [ "CTV acquires rights to hockey theme song"] , "CTV News", June 9, 2008]

Legal action

In November 2004, Dolores Claman and her publisher initiated legal action against CBC for breach of copyright, alleging, among other things, that theme was used on other CBC programs, and on "HNIC" rebroadcasts outside Canada, without consent. As of late 2006, the case remains ongoing. [cite web|url= |title=The Hockey Night In Canada Theme Song |accessdate=2007-01-10]

2008 licence renewal negotiations with CBC

The CBC's most recent licence to use "The Hockey Theme" expired at the conclusion of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Claman's publisher issued a statement on June 4, 2008, claiming that the CBC had informed them it would not be renewing its rights to the composition. cite web|url=|title=Hockey Night In Canada Theme to End|work=Copyright Music & Visuals|date=June 5, 2008 |accessdate=2008-06-05] CBC Sports head Scott Moore denied the reports, saying that the CBC wanted to keep the song and that negotiations on a new licence agreement for the song were still ongoing. [cite web|url=|title=Deal still possible for Hockey Night theme song||date=June 5, 2008|accessdate=2008-06-05] However, Moore also suggested that the window to reach an agreement was closing, as the broadcaster would need time to find a replacement if negotiations fell though. Under the CBC's backup plan, a nationwide contest for Canadian composers would be held to submit a new theme. [cite web|url=|title=Hockey Night song in limbo|work=Canadian Press (via|date=June 5, 2008 |accessdate=2008-06-05]

Published reports indicate that the impasse was caused by the CBC's offer to buy the theme outright for significantly less than Claman's representatives believe it to be worth, as well as the complications relating to the ongoing lawsuit. [ [ CBC fumbles negotiations on Hockey Night theme] , Brodie Fenlon, "The Globe and Mail", June 6, 2008]

The publisher presented the CBC with a number of solutions including a license virtually identical to the one in place for the better part of the previous ten years. This calculated to between $400 and $500 per three-hour game. One exception being that "as a gesture of goodwill" the publisher and Claman were offering that there be no increase in fee for the first two years. The CBC had until the end of June 6, 2008, to accept this offer but, instead, announced their contest to find a new theme.

While negotiations resumed late on June 5 and continued the following day, in the early evening of June 6 the CBC announced it could not reach an acceptable agreement, and would proceed with a contest for a new theme in collaboration with music label Nettwerk, with the winner receiving $100,000 (the CBC would presumably have full ownership of the theme thereafter). [ CBC press release] , June 6, 2008]

The CBC said it had offered nearly $1 million for perpetual rights to the piece, ["The National", June 6, 2008] but that Copyright Music was asking for $2.5 to $3 million for those rights. According to Claman, the CBC had offered her $850,000. The proposal to CBC suggesting they purchase the song outright, was based on industry standard formulae to derive a purchase price. This is based on earnings and at the same time demonstrated to the CBC how they could make money and save money towards recovering their costs.Fact|date=June 2008 The new theme was revealed at 7:00 EDT, on Hockey Night in Canada, on October 11, 2008. The winner was Alberta music teacher Colin Oberst with his song, "Canadian Gold".

Acquisition by CTV

On June 9, 2008, CBC offered to resume negotiations under mediator Gord Kirke. "We feel this song is worth one last attempt to save. Canadians are passionate about its association with Hockey Night in Canada," said Moore. [ Hockey Night song dispute going back to mediator] , June 9, 2008] However, by mid-afternoon, Claman's representatives announced they had sold the broadcast rights to the song in perpetuity to CTV, to be used on TSN and RDS hockey broadcasts as well as on CTV's coverage of Olympic hockey at the 2010 Olympics. [ CTV Saves 'The Hockey Theme'; Acquires Exclusive Rights to 'Canada's Second National Anthem'] , CTV press release, June 9, 2008]

A possible new arrangement for theme was first used by CTV GlobeMedia at the 2008 MuchMusic Video Awards with a rock arrangement which was played as Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators appeared on stage to help present the award for MuchVibe Best Rap Video Award. [ Jason Spezza Announces Best Rap Video] , June 15, 2008]

Shortly after the announcement the CBC filed applications to protect what appear to be three versions of "The Hockey Theme" as sound trademarks. [Canadian trademark applications nos. [ 1399541] , [ 1399542] , and [ 1400208] . While the names or tunes of the marks are not clear, the applications claim use with respect to " [e] ntertainment services, namely production and broadcast of hockey games through the media of television" (and/or radio or Internet) with dates of first use starting in October 1968.] The Canadian Intellectual Property Office has not yet ruled on the applications, which could be opposed by Claman, CTV, or both as part of the application process, which might take several years. Even if the trademark applications were successful, the most favourable result for the CBC would be that it could prevent CTV from using the theme during hockey broadcasts; the CBC itself would likely still be barred from using the theme due to CTV's status as copyright holder.

The new version of "The Hockey Theme" was recorded by members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and leaked by Canadian Press in a video first posted September 24, 2008.


ee also

*"The Hockey Song"
*"Hockey Night in Canada"
*"NHL on TSN"

External links

* [ "Hockey Night in Canada" theme's official website]
* [ Original version of "The Hockey Theme"]

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