A Goal Horn Story: Ranking the NHL’s Horns 1-32

After Monday night’s horn fiasco during the first period in Detroit and considering some of the high-scoring affairs this season that set off goal horns at an almost calculated pace, it ultimately became necessary to rank the goal horns of all 31 teams and consider the expansion sounds of the Seattle Kraken. There are certainly similarities between many horns across the league, with most falling into one of four categories. You’ve got your train horns; fog horn, boat, or ship-like horns; firetruck or cacophony of cars in a traffic jam sounding horns; and your unique cannon-like or just actual cannon horns. So, I’m digging into the deep bellows, wails, groans, and shrieks of some of the most exciting sounds (if your team scores at home) and annoying (if the opposing team scores at home) in the NHL.       

This list focuses on the horn sound, the goal song, and any special features that are added to make the celebration unique. Of course, I don’t doubt that when a barn is full of fans, even those horns and songs lowest on the rankings can stir up emotion and excitement after a goal. There are inevitably going to be disagreements based on the “when you’re there it’s better” case alone. Hey, I don’t blame you if you read the rankings and feel that way. If you do disagree or have thoughts about the different horns and songs, I encourage you to let me know in the comments at the end of the article. With that said, let’s get into the list.

32) Seattle Kraken

Yes, the Kraken have released their goal horn (or at least featured a horn in the team reveal) even though they do not have a roster yet. It’s not that the horn itself is bad, we just haven’t seen or heard anyone set it off with a goal yet, so Seattle’s goal horn starts at the bottom.

31) Colorado Avalanche

With so much going right for the Avalanche in recent years, from signings and draft picks to the reverse retro jerseys, the goal horn and song is not one of them. It’s one of many fog horns on the list, but it lacks a unique or Colorado-based touch. “Chase the Sun” by Planet Funk is a great dance song, it just feels too distinct from the feel of the horn.

30) Philadelphia Flyers

I’ll give Philadelphia credit for sticking with their choice over the years. One long horn blast and some late ’80s hair metal (“Feel the Shake” by Jetboy) works, it just doesn’t blow me away.

29) Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers are the first team on this list with the traffic jam and firetruck sounding horn. Some teams use it well, while others don’t quite give it that spin it needs. The Oilers are unfortunately in the second group. They follow it up with a delayed siren that builds up and wails alongside “Hell Yeah” by Rev Theory. It’s loud and catchy, but not the best goal song in the mix.

28) Detroit Red Wings

Detroit is at least thematic with their car horn-esque horn. They use a slightly delayed siren and then usually an EDM song (also a nod to some music history in the city) that is certainly catchy, but has changed frequently over the past couple of years. They’re still searching for the right song, perhaps.

If you can see a theme developing here, it’s that the delayed siren overlapping with the horn doesn’t work for me and the long delayed siren after the horn with a song overlapping just feels like there’s too much going on.

27) Tampa Bay Lighting

Tampa has a unique two-tone horn with the deep bellows and what sounds like someone hammering on the car horn to the point where it broke and is stuck. I like it. But it feels like all the energy is lost afterward with a somewhat catchy song that doesn’t quite go anywhere.

26) Vegas Golden Knights

The Golden Knights made waves with their inaugural season playoff run and pre-game theatrics. However, post-goal sounds don’t quite meet the standard they set with the magic before puck drop. They use a deep fog horn and a song from local group Panic! At the Disco. But, if you have to overlay “Go Team Go” (in this case Knights) over the song, it seems like they’re admitting it lacks a bit of punch for a goal song. It’s a good idea to get the crowd directly involved, but it doesn’t quite land right.

25) New Jersey Devils

The Devils get points for running the horn and song separately. Giving the crowd space to cheer with the horn is a key element for me. They also went with “Howl” from New Jersey band The Gaslight Anthem as their song, so good on them for going local. However, the siren overlay just doesn’t sit well with me, as I’ve said. There’s too much competing noise and at some point we need to just let the song carry the fans back into the action.

24) Washington Capitals

The Capitals don’t necessarily have a unique horn as it resembles the other train-like horns. They also use a siren. Why is it higher than the other siren sounds, then? Well, their siren is unique. They went with the video game police car siren that potentially startles more unsuspecting fans than it excites, but it gives them their own sound over teams with a similar approach.

23) Winnipeg Jets

This is one where I know the atmosphere in the building would completely change the spot on this ranking. However, with no fans, I had to go on horn and song alone. The horn is unique. It’s one long blast of a train-like horn.

But with “Gonna Celebrate” by The Phantoms, it just didn’t quite have the mix of some other combinations.

22) Los Angeles Kings

The Kings have a train-like horn that sounds similar to Edmonton’s. The key difference is that they let the horn ring out on its own for a bit before the pumping “Power Ride 2010” by Fred Coury takes over and keeps the energy going. The song pairing just adds a bit more fire to the celebration.

21) Anaheim Ducks

Like the Kings, the Ducks get points for simplicity. They pump out a deep fog horn that’s one of the deepest in the league, but start the song a bit earlier than the Kings. It works for me here because of the rolling “whoooas” in Pennywise’s “Bro Hymn” that nearly match the the depth of the horn sound. Points for going with a local band again.

20) Nashville Predators

Nashville’s powerful firetruck-like horn pushes it up the rankings here. It’s loud and really shakes you to the core. I give them credit for embracing their style and turning to a country song immediately after. The “I like it, I love it” is a bit corny. The shift to “Gold on the Ceiling” by The Black Keys saves the post-goal celebration vibe.

19) Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh has a good train-quality horn and let it resonate between two blasts for a good 10 seconds. They follow it up with the rousing sounds of “Party Hard” by Andrew W.K. Many fans just want that big party vibe at sporting events, so this combo works well.

18) St. Louis Blues

Having the St. Louis horn in the top 20 might be a choice some readers will take issue with. I get that the song is not a great “keep the crowd energy going” kind of song for many cities or fanbases. That’s just it, though. I respect the Blues for going with something unique and meaningful to the organization. Apparently the song is called “The Blues Have the Urge Goal Song (Let’s Go Blues)” by The Urge.

It’s a great bit of marketing for the St. Louis band and a strong collaboration. I think the organ part is the distinct nod to tradition, and it is, or at least borrows from, “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The horn itself is also excellent.

17) Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres benefit from the May Day bump in the standings. The overtime goal from Brad May in 1993 and the call by Rick Jeanneret alongside the blaring horn makes it a memorable sound. The use of “Let Me Clear My Throat” by DJ Kool is a great choice to keep the strong vibe after a goal. It’s at least one thing that the Sabres have going for them.

16) Calgary Flames

The Flames have the better of the two horn/song combinations in Alberta. The great firetruck-esque horn is right on theme and “T.N.T” by AC/DC works well. You can’t seem to go wrong with AC/DC in sports arenas. However, if Calgary wants to triple down on the “fire” theme, why not go with “Fire” by German house group Scooter. It moves the needle. Google it.

15) Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes have turned heads lately with their fan engagement work and have created a nice reputation for themselves in this regard. Their horn and song combo match the expectations. The horn falls into the ship-style category and carries the weight before fan favorite and local artist Petey Pablo takes over with “Raise Up.” It’s also worth noting that they don’t overlay the storm siren, which might seem like the easy choice. They’ve saved it for that pre-game pump up and made it something special. It works on its own and the horn and song can do their thing when called upon.

14) New York Islanders

The horn for the Islanders almost sounds like a cross between train sounds and noises from the traffic jam or firetruck horn category. It’s a unique twist that I can appreciate. The Joe Satriani “Crowd Chant” works for the Islanders as well. He’s a talented local guitarist who wrote something intended to be chanted by a large… crowd. Too cheesy? Not at all. It’s catchy and “chanty” enough to keep the vibe going after the horn has done its work.

13) Vancouver Canucks

This is a great horn. I struggled keeping it out of the top 10. It’s loud and one long burst of excitement after a lamp-lighter. It’s one of those train/ship horn combinations that covers the lower and higher ends of the horn range. The person that worked out the cuts to “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” by Van Halen deserves some credit as well.

“Hey! Hey! Hey!” is so fitting here — it cuts out all of the not so great lyrics, too — and is such great crowd engagement that you might think it was one of those “written to be a sports jam” songs. Nope. Just good editing.

12) Florida Panthers

This horn/song combo is the work of another great arena entertainment genius. The Panthers go with the straight train horn and use three strong blasts. Moving in quickly is “Sweetness” by Jimmy Eat World. This is another song that grew into an arena track over the years and now it’s a legitimate arena jam. It’s catchy, melodic, and features a great “whooooa” that fans most certainly sing down the scale with after a goal. The kicker is the panther noise peppered in. I know, it’s an overlapping noise, which I haven’t really given high praise to throughout the list. The ferocity is excellent, though, and they last for two seconds at most each time.

11) Minnesota Wild

Minnesota just misses out on the top 10, but we’ve been in the range of great horns and horn/song combos for a while now. It appears that the Wild made a switch from last season and it greatly improved their post-goal celebration atmosphere in my opinion. The horn falls into the ship horn category and the blasts vary in length. One long, one short, and then another long burst. The shake up works well. They also dropped the Satriani “Crowd Chant” (it doesn’t necessarily work in all arenas) and opted for House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” The group didn’t have roots in Minnesota, but it’s such a classic jam to the point where it’s hard not to sing the chorus or jump around.

10) Boston Bruins

Here we are. The top 10. The Bruins take the first spot with their deep ship-like horn. It’s thematic in Boston even if they aren’t the Boston Ships. It’s powerful even if it is a recording. They’ve also stuck with “Kernkraft 400” by Zombie Nation and it’s hard to blame them for not changing it. It’s catchy, makes you move a bit, and almost builds a tension in the house as it plays through. It celebrates the last goal and gets you ready for the next.

9) Toronto Maple Leafs

There are a few Original Six era teams in the top 10. It doesn’t have anything to do with tradition or respect. It might just have to do with the fact that they’ve had a bit more time to figure out great combinations. The Maple Leafs have a great horn that falls into the ship category. It’s deep and comes through with two strong blasts. The organization is also embracing the youth who bring the skill and speed on the ice. Arguably, no throwback group is more popular amongst the younger generation than Hall and Oates.

“You Make My Dreams” is almost hilarious when it comes on, but it really works after Auston Matthews buries one. Then again, any song might.

8)  San Jose Sharks

Much like their home-state friends in Anaheim, the Sharks use one of the deepest fog horns in the league. It bellows out like a great white shark groaning after a tough day at the office. It’s a couple of long blasts that reach out across the ocean. The Sharks also use “Get Ready for This” by 2 Unlimited, so you know why this is in the top 10.

7) Ottawa Senators

Yes, the Ottawa Senators have one of the best horn/song combinations in the league. You could argue that the horn resembles the one in Montréal, but it’s just because they both fall into the train horn category. Ottawa puts their own spin on it with a fuller sound and they really hammer the horn like a conductor, which is fun. “Song 2” by Blur is an arena staple, so you might argue that they made the obvious choice; I’d say you’re just jealous.

6) New York Rangers

Yes, the Rangers might use a recording, but it sounds like such an old car or firetruck horn that I have to assume that if that’s the sound they want, they could only find and maintain it on a recording. The original horn is probably on the long-term injured reserve, if anything. The goal song is great, too. “Slapshot” by Ray Castoldi hums like the old horn and has the obligatory “Hey!” chant for fans looking to release some of that excitement in an acceptable manner.

5) Dallas Stars

Dallas make the music do the heavy lifting during the post-goal celebration and it works well. When you’ve got Pantera as a local band to draw from and the band wrote a song specifically for the Stars and fans, it’s hard to go wrong. They give you one blast of the horn and then “Puck Off” melts your face.

The “Dallas, Stars, Dallas, Stars” chant sounds great between the chugging guitars. It all works together for one of the best horn/song combos in the NHL.

4) Chicago Blackhawks

The Stanley Cup runs in 2009-10, 2012-13, and 2014-15, and all the playoff games in between cemented the legacy of this horn/song combo. It’s a great horn in the ship category that blows out three long blasts. The real draw of course is the use of “Chelsea Dagger” by The Fratellis. The “Doot Do Da Doot” part (I think that’s what they say) is so catchy and upbeat that you just get happier when it comes on. I also know of a few minor league teams that switched to this song after Chicago made it an arena jam in North America.

3) Montréal Canadiens

The train horn in Montréal is top-tier quality. It’s quite high pitched, which gives it a fairly unique sound. It’s part of that beautiful atmosphere that fans talk about when they attend a game in Montréal. The goal horn stands out among a crowd of similar horn sounds and seems to carry a sense of tradition, even if you can’t quite point to what the tradition is (a great horn sound?). The goal song is perhaps a bit generic, but it’s got the key elements: something catchy, upbeat, and something you can chant along to if you please.

2) Arizona Coyotes

Read it again if you have to. The Arizona Coyotes have the second-best goal horn and song combination in the league. It’s all about the theme here and it’s executed to perfection. The Coyotes use a horn in the firetruck sounds category, though it might mix in some ship horn vibes, too. It comes through with two hard blasts and then The Black Keys (their second appearance in the list) take over with “Howlin’ For You.” Howl is the theme and the song fits right in, grooving right into your heart and feet, so you can’t help but feel good. The final touch is the excellent “howl” used to round out the celebration.

1) Columbus Blue Jackets

The one person who should be exempt from being benched by coach John Tortorella is the individual who came up with the post-goal celebration plan for the Blue Jackets. Ok, the joke doesn’t quite add up (why would they be on the bench), but the point is that they figured out how to bring a unique element to the process and work it into a horn/song combo seamlessly. The cannon, AC/DC (also their second appearance), and the one deep blast of the horn (in the ship category, I’ll say) all make for a top-notch celebration.

The cannon was already a staple of AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” to the point where there’s a photo of one on the cover of the album. The fact that someone picked up on the potential of that for the Blue Jackets — on theme, loud, exclamatory, entertaining — is superb and what makes their celebration the best in the league.

These are my rankings of all NHL goal horns. Agree? Disagree? Think your team deserves better goal-horn treatment? Comment below. I had a blast.


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