Around six months ago a website called “We Just Scored” materialized and quickly became my favorite thing on Al Gore’s internet. Its concept? A grid of NHL logos welcomes you to the homepage, and behind each of them lies a big ol’ comically-rendered button. Upon pressing that team’s corresponding button, you hear goal horn blasts as heard on that team’s home ice this season, followed by its associated celebratory song. As far as I can tell, they are mostly accurate and seem to be decently mixed. As a bonus, it also includes the long-defunct Hartford Whalers and their “Brass Bonanza.” It’s a lot of dumb fun!
But one thing that We Just Scored happens to illuminate, however, is that not all hockey goal horns are created equal. In fact I’d say half of them are just plain bad. Whether it’s an arhythmic, borderline schizophrenic horn composition, or a poor song selection, a good chunk of them are just not pleasant to listen to. (In the interest of full disclosure, I do think that the New Jersey Devils employ one of the best actual *horns* in the league, yet still to this very day have not found success with a song that pairs well with it.)
With the Playoffs a mere two days away, I thought it would be nice to completely disregard all of the on-ice action that occurred over the past half year that determined which 16 teams comprise this year’s postseason, and instead decide who deserves to win each round—and ultimately Lord Stanley’s Cup—based exclusively on which team has the better goal horn per matchup.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators
This is a no brainer. Montreal has the most unique horn + song in the NHL (one long, high-pitched blast followed by a Quebec hip-hop group rapping about hockey), while Ottawa goes with a weird horn whose latter third is chopped into smaller blasts, and is paired with a song that is better known for being the theme of a WWE wrestler. Winner: Montreal.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Detroit Red Wings
Detroit may have the better horn (I’m always a bigger fan of sets of threes versus sets of twos), but I have a fundamental distaste for their trademarking of the phrase “Hockeytown.” Plus I always appreciate songs that either encourage, or are driven by, crowd participation. Winner: Tampa Bay.
New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
I might be from New Jersey, but even the Pens use of “Zombie Nation” is a little too Jersey Shore for me. At the same time, I have a blood rivalry with the Rangers, but goddamn if that horn blast isn’t a beautiful, bombastic noise. Winner: NY Rangers.
Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders
I hate both of these. The Ducks do the siren better, and the Wild make better use of Joe Satriani’s “Crowd Chant.” That said, as depressing as it is for a D.C. team to appropriate the universal sound of crime for celebratory purposes, they do follow up with Iron Maiden’s “The Wicker Man,” which is exponentially better than anything that ever has occurred at Nassau Coliseum, or ever will occur in the tiny remainder left of its terrible life. Winner: Washington.
Western Conference Quarterfinals
St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild
The Blues have such a longstanding tradition with the arena organ that it almost seems sacrilegious to criticize it for that exact reason. Yet at the same time they were also one of the most reluctant to adopt a goal horn, which is precisely the premise of this article. And in the modern landscape of this sport, the organ makes the Blues feel a little dated, which is befitting for a team that is the oldest to still have never won a Cup. That, and the fact that the Wild do a considerably better job than the Isles with Satriani, and have a cool, staggered-length approach to their loud-ass horn, makes them easy favorites. Winner: Minnesota.
Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks
I absolutely adore the Preds use, and lyrical modification, of Tim McGraw’s “I Like It, I Love It.” And the horn is long and beefy, which is a weird way to describe a sound. HOWEVER, the Blackhawks as an organization have become synonymous with playoff hockey, and I’m willing to bet that when you think of a goal song, one of the first that comes to mind is The Fratelli’s “Chelsea Dagger.” Like it or not, it is now intrinsically tied to the pursuit of Lord Stanley’s Cup. Winner: Chicago.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Winnipeg Jets
As cool as the Jets using an air raid siren in conjunction with the horn blast is, it simply does not hold a candle to the Ducks employment of Pennywise’s “Bro Hymn.” I mean, few things on this earth can go toe-to-toe with that song in general; small, 40-second bites of music crappily edited together to pump up crowds are definitely not some of those things. Winner: Anaheim.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames
In any other year the Canucks take this. At various points in recent history they used Green Day and the Black Keys as their goal songs, and the horn is cold and deep. But they’ve begun experimenting with U2, and I will not stand for that. So Calgary wins by default. Winner: Calgary.
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Oldest professional hockey team with the most distinctive post-goal fanfare, pitted against a Gulf Coast team whose fans sound like they are always four minutes away from hitting the strip clubs after every score. Winner: Montreal.
New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals
[Listens to the Caps police siren intro again]
[Types “NY Rangers” before his heart has a chance to assassinate his treasonous brain]
Winner: NY Rangers.
Western Conference Semifinals
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild
See: above description of Blackhawks goal horn. It had a rough go against Nashville, meaning the Wild stand no chance. Winner: Chicago.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames
The Flames only beat out Vancouver because they are decidedly not using U2. Winner: Anaheim.
Eastern Conference Finals
New York Rangers vs. Montreal Canadiens
Subjectivity aside, I am sometimes jealous that the Devils don’t have something cool like the Canadiens. It’s honest and provincial and rooted deeply in the culture. Winner: Montreal.
Western Conference Finals
Anaheim Ducks vs. Chicago Blackhawks
As much as I, at the root of my being, want to get the Cup the hell out of Southern California by any means necessary…it’s “Bro Hymn,” dude. How can you fight that? Winner: Anaheim.
STANLEY CUP FINALS
Anaheim Ducks vs. Montreal Canadiens
There really can’t be two horns that are more opposite from each other than Anaheim’s and Montreal’s. As noted previously, Montreal comes in with the squealing, drawn-out horn that sounds like a passenger train speeding down the tracks; Anaheim opts for three low and slow fog horns, colored with police sirens, with Pennywise chiming in before either of those preceding noises have run their individual course. Quebec’s Loco Locass might embody the chill feel-goodery of being one of the les habitant, but “Bro Hymn” better exemplifies the speed of the game and the natural high that comes with experiencing a live goal on home ice.
Stanley Cup Winner: Anaheim.