History of “The State of Hockey” Anthem

My blog for the day is going to continue on the subject of Minnesota Wild Hockey and their history. Today I am mainly going to talk about the history of their Anthem, also known as “The Wild Anthem” or “The State of Hockey Anthem.” I was able to find a really good article on the Minnesota wild website on how the Wild anthem came to be and what some of the people who were apart of the making of the song thought about the whole process. The anthem is usually played during the first intermission of the game between the first and second period. It is also played at the end of game when we win a game. It is one of the many reasons why I love this team and their celebration of Minnesotan traditions.

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Although the anthem was mainly created in the beginning as another marketing strategy to help kick start the Minnesota Wild it fast became a part of our state’s traditions just like the phrase “State of Hockey.” The late John Olson was the advertising company’s founder who created the anthem and the actual person who created the song along with some help by copywriter Derek Bitter. There are now many adaptions to the anthem but the message is still the same, Minnesota is “the State of Hockey.”

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John Olson (on left) and Derek Bitter (on right)

When creating the song they started with the idea of just making a “State of Hockey” flag or banner to wave around or hang up places but the more they talked about it the more they decided it would be really cool to have an anthem to go along with the flag. They thought it would be cool to be able to show the flag somewhere and have the song be sang in the Xcel Energy Center to get the fans involved. They also thought it would be a good idea to make the song because it could be expressed through many different marketing channels and create a new brand here in Minnesota.

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Campbell’s Flag Bearer (first one to skate on the ice to introduce the MN Wild)

At first the Wild’s Vice president of marketing and current team’s COO Matt Majka was skeptical about the idea. However, the more Olson and Bitter talked about it the more he got on board. They then started to talk about how and when the song could be used. Joel Dodson who was the music producer with Olson during the origins of the Wild stated that they knew that it could be played nightly and take on a life of its own if done right. He also said “if we can nail this, it’s going to be really big for the team and the state.”

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Matt Majka

***Could not find a good picture of Joel Dodson***

John Olson had a strong vision in his mind as to what he wanted the song to sound like and how it should go. He for sure wanted to base it off an Irish bar song and really tap into the Saint Paul roots of the team and the Irish history of Saint Paul. He was inspired by Irish drinking songs. He liked how they were very group song oriented and chanty. However, with the anthem he wanted it to also include a lot of traditional musical elements that could live a long time but also be able to have other versions  be made out of the song.

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As for the lyrics Olson needed some help since he did not actually know a lot about hockey. So he would write them and then Derek Bitter would “hockey-ize” them. However, Olson did write the whole song, lyrics and all. Bitter was just there to pitch in every now and then. Bitter said that he wrote a lot of songs with Olson over the years but this one was the most fun to do. They did not go through a demo or a pre-production of any sort they just jumped into the production and wrote it as they went. They first worked with some melodies on the piano and a guitar then went from there. Once they had the melody and main instrumentation they added the vocals and the other effects that make the sound so unique.

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the first time the song was preformed was on the opening night (2000) of the first game played by the Wild ever. They had a kid’s choir sing it to open the pre-game ceremony.  In the article Matt Majka states “I think we did that purposefully because we thought, ‘You know, they won’t boo children; they won’t boo a children’s choir singing this thing so let’s give it a chance.’ That did work.” However, there were still some skeptics of the song but enough people enjoyed it and that all that really mattered to Olson, Bitter and Majka. It was a good, non-threatening way to introduce the anthem to everyone.anthem003_slide

A picture from the first season played by the Wild ever

The original version of the song is the one that still is played nightly and used in most broadcasting but there are plenty of other versions including some using a lot of guitar and some very drum-oriented. they had a lot of ideas when making this anthem. This resulted in them producing at least 15 different versions of the song including: a rock version, dance version, shortened version and even a version using horns. ***you can purchase a CD with all the versions on it***Colorado Avalanche v Minnesota Wild - Game Six

At first the anthem was not actually planned to be played nightly but now it is almost customary to do so and if the franchise were to stop playing the song the fans would most likely be very angry. It is just one of the staples that makes the Xcel Energy Center all come together and represent our state. On the other hand, they do try and keep the song fresh by changing it in some way each year. They at least change the effects that go with it like the video they use during the song (which is shown on the big screen above the ice) but it is still same song no matter what.

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Not only is this song loved by the fans of the Wild but it is also a great legacy of Olson and what he started. He came up with an idea that brought a whole community together by helping us Minnesotans realize that we truly are the State of Hockey. Even though the song is cheesy and campy, what the lyrics say are spot on and easily connect the people in the State of Hockey (who love hockey) to what we care about most. Tradition and the love of hockey.

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Here is the Wild Anthem.

***It is better to watch one of the videos I have posted below because it helps you get a feel of what was discussed in my post and why the song is a great musical piece to have associated with our state***

We were raised
With the stick
And a pair of blades
On the ice we cut our teeth
We took our knocks
In the penalty box
Our mother was the referee

This sport was here
Before we came
It will be here when we’re gone
The game’s in our blood
And our blood’s in the game
Lay us down under
A frozen pond

We will fight to the end
We will stand and defend
Our flag flying high and free
We were born the child
Of the strong and Wild
In the State, the State of Hockey

A big blue line runs around our state
A line that can’t be crossed
The day they try to take this game
Is the day the gloves come off

We will fight to the end
We will stand and defend
Our flag flying high and free
We were born the child
Of the strong and Wild
In the State, the State of Hockey.

Here are my links:

http://wild.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=748694 (here is the article that helped me explain the history of the Wild anthem)

http://video.wild.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=655375 (here is the current video used for the song. Once again this is the video played during the first intermission)

http://video.wild.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=849&id=21851 (here is the original video, you can tell there are some changes between how this version sounds versus the current version)

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One comment

  1. trickyrogue · March 8, 2015

    Great pictures and a very informative post. I didn’t know any of this, so it looks like I got to learn something new today!

    Liked by 1 person

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