They shot, they missed. The would-be Canadian ice-rink anthem Hockey, the Greatest Game in the Land was poised to be a breakaway hit, but instead has clanked off the crossbar. The robust singalong is the theme of Score: A Hockey Musical, a song-based feature film starring Olivia Newton-John and newcomer Noah Reid that opens Friday nationwide.
What is offside is a lyrical passage that is historically incorrect. "Philip Esposito, Frank Mahovlich and Orr," the rousing ditty goes. "In 1972 we showed the Russians to the door." The problem is that in the 1972 Canada-Soviet series, Bobby Orr did not participate - he was injured and unable to play.
When apprised of the hockey-lore inaccuracy, the film's director, Michael McGowan, was stunned. "Oh my God, we're screwed," he groaned. "He didn't play in '72? Well, then, we're idiots basically. You can write that we're complete morons."
The lyrics to the shinny shanty, set to premiere at Thursday's game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Rangers at the Air Canada Centre, were penned by Mr. McGowan and rocker Hawksley Workman, who performs the tune on the movie's soundtrack. Mr. Workman, who appears in the movie, performed the song after its gala screening at the Toronto International Film Festival.
It was purposely written to stand alone from the film, and to have an extended life as a crowd-rousing anthem much in the vein of Stompin' Tom Connors's The Hockey Song. "We rejigged it to make it non-specific to the movie, in the hope that it could live on in arenas, for sure," Mr. McGowan said.
In Stompin' Tom's Saturday-night classic, it was "Bobby" who scored at the "good ol' hockey game." But for Hockey, the Greatest Game in the Land, unfortunately, No. 4 Bobby Orr is wrongly credited with an assist he doesn't deserve.