Skip to main content

The National Hockey League says it presented an English-only version of the Canadian national anthem on Saturday night because the Montreal Canadiens were considered the road team in their opening game of the league’s restart against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Toronto.

The decision to use an English-only version of “O Canada” drew the ire of some on social media, including former Montreal mayor and federal politician Denis Coderre, who blasted the league for the lack of French on Twitter.

“O Canada” was performed by Canadian crooner Michael Bublé while an instrumental version of the “Star Spangled Banner” was played at Scotiabank Arena ahead of Game 1 of the best-of-five series between Pittsburgh and Montreal.

Story continues below advertisement

The anthem by Buble, a Grammy Award-winning singer, was recorded at an empty Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

It was also used before the Edmonton Oilers-Chicago Blackhawks game at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the other NHL hub city, earlier Saturday.

A spokesman for the NHL said in an e-mail an English version of the anthem was used because Montreal was technically the road team for its opening games against Pittsburgh.

“Game 1 and 2 of the series are “road” games for Montreal,” wrote Gary Meagher. “When they are the home team (Games 3 and 4) – the game presentation and hockey operations will include a number of the elements of a game at the Bell Centre.”

A senior spokesperson for the Canadiens organization said ultimately those kinds of decisions in the bubble fall to the league.

But Paul Wilson, the club’s vice-president of public affairs and communications, told The Canadian Press that team owner Geoff Molson noticed the lack of French during the anthem, asking Wilson to inquire about why it was the case in a text message.

Some social media users piled on when they realized the lack of French in the anthem – especially given the Canadiens were playing.

Story continues below advertisement

The always outspoken Coderre, an ardent Habs fan, also brushed off a fellow Twitter user’s suggestion it was a Pittsburgh home game.

Coderre said he’d heard a bilingual Canadian anthem performed at a game played in Pittsburgh previously.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies