With the NHL lockout firmly in place and both sides entrenched for what may be a long, drawn out battle, we’re taking this opportunity to explore the musical side of the National Hockey League. Each week, we’ll see what happens when hockey and music collide.
Join us as we Rock Out for the Lockout.
The 1992-93 Toronto Maple Leafs – “The Leafs are the Best”
The 1991-92 was a rough season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their 67 points were fourth-worst in the NHL. They’d missed the playoffs for the second straight season. Only the Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and San Jose Sharks were worse. Of course, the Sharks were in their very first season in the NHL; the Leafs were in their 65th. The Whalers would soon move to Raleigh. The Nordiques would pack their bags for the Mile-High City. As for the Leafs, they would remain in Toronto, but not all the 1991-92 Leafs players would be there.
On January 2, 1992, new Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher swung one of the biggest deals in NHL history – one that dramatically improved the Leafs roster. Sent packing were Craig Berube, Gary Leeman, Michel Petit, Alexander Godynyuk, and Jeff Reese. Coming back the other way from Calgary were Jamie Macoun, Ric Nattress, Kent Manderville, Rick Wamsley, and hall-of-famer Doug Gilmour. Pretty safe to say that Fletcher fleeced his former team in that trade.
Goaltender Grant Fuhr would be sent packing prior to the 1992-93 trade deadline, bringing Dave Andreychuk, Darren Puppa, and a first rounder (who would become blueliner Kenny Jonsson) into the fold.
Obviously, hopes were high for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
So high, in fact, that the Leafs decided to celebrate their success in song. No, not just a song — a long-form music video with a ‘We Are the World’-style chorus, complete with NHL-dreaming Starter-jacket-wearing children and a cameo by the man-who-would-be-Austin-Powers, Mike Myers… oh, and a second song, “The Playoffs are Here,” after the ‘behind-the-scenes footage.
(Gilmour with the motorcycle and the leather jacket? Killer indeed.)
For a team coming off two straight season without playoffs, “The Leafs are the Best” was probably a bit of hyperbole. Even in 1992-93, when they were vastly improved, it was a stretch. In the regular season, they weren’t even the best in their own division. The Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings both finished higher in the Norris Division. In the postseason, they fared a bit better. Toronto made it to the Conference Finals, leading the series 3-2 before dropping two straight to Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings. Still, far from the best.
What musical masterminds could be behind this masterpiece? Well, the lead vocals were supplied by Richard Samuels and Ninette Terhart (that’s her, taking a Crosby-esque dive on the ice at the 5:50 mark).
While Samuels and Allan Greenspoon helped out with the songwriting, there’s one other lyricist involved that you might not have expected – Glenn Anderson. That’s right, the man who won six Stanley Cups with the Oilers and Rangers, who is forever enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame with 498 career NHL goals and 1099 NHL points, is also a songwriter. Who knew?