Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rating the intros: Five classic Maple Leafs montages

Lots of talk this week about the CBC's opening montage before Game One of the Cup finals. Set to a tune by Coldplay, it featured backwards video clips of various Pens and Wings. Most people liked it. Some didn't.

I thought it was a cool idea, with one major flaw: Not enough Leafs. Then again, I've felt the same way about the last 41 Cup finals.

I'll admit that I'm a huge sucker for pre-game musical montages. And Hockey Night in Canada has consistently done some of the very best.

A great pre-game montage has the following:

  • An inspired musical choice. Any genre will do, but the song has to fit.
  • Some sort of opening shot that sets the tone without actually showing anybody playing hockey
  • Quick cuts of various players, including at least one who looks like their face ran into a grain thresher
  • Enough highlights (goals, hits, fights, etc) to make you think these two teams are part of the greatest rivalry in sports history
  • At least one clip that matches up exactly with the song lyrics
  • Some sort of dramatic closing shot.
Let's take a look at five memorable Maple Leaf montages and see how they stack up.
Leafs vs. Senators, Game Seven, 2002
Music: "Defy You" by The Offspring. Not terrible, but kind of cliched. 5/10. Opening scenes: Each team walking the hallway on the way to the ice. 6/10. Beat-up face: Tie Domi, freshly stiched-up after the infamous Ricard Persson hit. 10/10. Rivalry shots: Plenty, including every possible combination of Leaf and Sen players going nose-to-nose. 8/10. Matching lyrics: "You may throw me down", right as a Leaf gets thrown to the ice. 6/10. Closing shot: Shayne Corson and Marion Hossa leaning into a faceoff. I'm assuming this is from the regular season, because I actually noticed Hossa. 9/10. Intangibles: Fading into the live crowd audio in the second half was a cool touch. 8/10. Bottom line: 7/10. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Leafs vs. Senators, Game Seven, 2004
Music: "Not Ready To Go" by The Trews. Pretty close to a perfect choice. 9/10. Opening scenes: Pretty standard shots, except for a neat one of a rolling puck. 5/10. Beat-up face: Darcy Tucker sporting a smirk and a shiner. Honorable mention to John "Dag-nabbit!" Muckler. 7/10 Rivalry shots: Some good ones here. And check out the badass shot of Roberts at 0:32. 8/10. Matching lyrics: Pretty much every shot in the video (seriously). But bonus points for "I should be leaving" right as Mats Sundin limps out of the series. 9/10. Closing shot: The Senators celebrating wildly while the singer vows "I'm not ready to go". 10/10 (for ironic foreshadowing). Intangibles: What's with the red/blue filter that keeps fading in and out? 2/10. Bottom line: 8/10. I like this one a little better than the 2002 version.
Leafs vs. Sharks, Game Seven, 1994
Music: "No Limits", by whoever it was that did "No Limits". 1/10. Opening scenes: Jaws music, bad shark clipart, and Don Cherry. 3/10. Beat-up face: The giant-headed Doug Gilmour thing dancing next to Cherry. 2/10. Rivalry shots: A surprising number of decent shots, including a scrap. Not bad for two teams that never played each other. 5/10. Matching lyrics: "Won't give up the fight" right as the Leafs score the game six OT winner to extend the series. 8/10. Closing shot: Some Shark scoring a goal. 3/10. Intangibles: This one is only lasts 1:25, which is only about 90 seconds too long. 3/10. Bottom line: 3/10. Let's never speak of this again.
Leafs vs. Hawks, Game One, 1994
Music: "Dreamer", by Supertramp. I know, I know. But watch... somehow, it works. 8/10. Opening scenes: A supercool extended shot of Chris Chelios shooting the puck at a cameraman. 9/10. Beat-up face: Doug Gilmour getting a face wash from a linesman. 5/10. Rivalry shots: They come pretty much non-stop, including Wendel Clark backing down just about every player on the Hawks roster. Not enough fights, though. 8/10. Matching lyrics: "Well you know... you had... it coming to you" as Wendel chases Jeff Shantz around before finally popping him in the mouth. 9/10. Closing shot: Wendel Clark and Chris Chelios fading into the Stanley Cup. 9/10. Intangibles: Seriously, CBC knows the Leafs had more players than Wendel Clark in 1994, right? 10/10. Bottom line: 9/10. Almost perfect.
Leafs vs. Kings, Game Seven, 1993
Music: The theme from the movie "Hoosiers". Genius. 10/10. Opening scenes: Felix Potvin talking to his goalposts. 6/10. Beat-up face: A tie: Doug Gilmour's bleeding face thanks to Wayne Gretzky, and Marty McSorley's crater-sized shiner courtesy Wendel Clark. 10/10. Rivalry shots: Nothing fancy, but most of the main highlights are here. 7/10. Matching lyrics: None, since there are no lyrics. But check out the mini-montage of the Gilmour hit at 1:18 right as the music hits its crescendo. Goosebump time. 9/10. Closing shot: Gretzky doing his little happy dance after this OT goal. Hey, why is his stick blade all red? 8/10. Intangibles: The weird Kings fan with the painted face dancing at 0:25. 8/10. Bottom line: 10/10. A masterpiece. The montage by which all others must be judged.


  1. That :-o shot of Grapes was money.

  2. I think you're a little harsh on that Leafs-Sharks clip. The opening sequence is pretty incredible... Those sharks fins turning around the MLG, the cool Grapes shot, and then No Limits, wich is iconic of 1994? Love it.

  3. AWESOME post.

    I liked the second Sens/Leafs one best. The one from 2004.

    Also I think the "Cherry" next to the big dancing Gilmour (in the sharks montage) isn't the real Don Cherry

    BTW do you have like thousands of video tapes that you saved forever? I used to have one of all coaches corners. I should have digitized them but I think I threw them out.

  4. Seriously, CBC knows the Leafs had more players than Wendel Clark in 1994, right?

    That really made me laugh.

    Great post. The Kings one is great.

    The Sharks one is terrible considering the way that series almost ended in game six. It was kind of a good series.

  5. @Meat...

    BTW do you have like thousands of video tapes that you saved forever?

    It's more like dozens, but yeah, I was a "taper" as a kid. Especially during the playoffs.

    Unfortunately, I wasn't much of a "labeler" so it's been a bit of a challenge to find everything. I'm sure there's some good stuff in there that I won't find any time soon.

  6. Best part of the '93 game seven was the video "Tracking" at the start! Made me kind of miss my VCR. So many memories...

  7. That Sharks into is cringe worthy. It has not aged well.

    Amazing to see montages that featured as much fighting as goal scoring. Certainly would never happen in the current climate.

    Amongst your dozens of taped intros, I hope you find the one from game three or four of the Leafs-Wings tilt from 1993. IIRC it features Potvin v. Cicarelli set to Van Halen's "Right Now"

  8. Game 7 2002 might be my favourite. Just because of how game 5 ended, with Tucker lying on the ice and Alfie scoring, and how we came back. Epic.

    Go Leafs Go.

  9. Anyone remember the montage set to "Where The Streets Have No Name" by U2? I'm pretty sure it was from game 1 of '93 Tor/LA... I remember having goosebumps to this day.

    And just to be clear, any footage from Maple Leaf Gardens cannot ever fail. Ever.

  10. Though it doesn't involve the Leafs, this is still among the best intros I have ever seen to the game (and also the one time that Nickelback has been, and ever will be, deemed acceptable).

    It was a good song choice for the circumstances, the clips fit the lyrics really well, and the loud Oilers fans chanting really was an awesome touch to it.

  11. @Anonymous...

    Yep, that one nailed pretty much every category. Great intro shots, especially.

  12. I was going to post that 2006 Game 7 intro here too. However, the CBC also does amazing post Cup montages too. The one after that Game 7 featuring the Oilers run playing to "Come Down" by Bush was one of the best I've ever seen. But, I can't find it on Youtube.

    Maybe if the Leafs made the playoffs once in a while, CBC could devote their fantastic talent to an intro of our own.

  13. Got it right again... anything from '93 wins hands down. Everyone (team, fans, Cherry, CBC) started to go soft during the '94 run... heads got too big.

  14. I definitely remember the 2004 one. Apt musical choice. I remember my mood before that was very nervous. just thought the streak had to come to an end, in a "we can't keep beating these guys every time, can we?" mood.

    By the end of that intro, I was pumped. Like, I'm NOT ready to go, so let's DO THIS.

    Sadly. That was five years ago....

    WTF happened?

  15. wow, what did you guys think of that montage for tonight's game 6?!?! That was an instant classic! Who the heck is that band? Sounds like an old Phil Collins tune, except, ya know - good!!!

  16. anybody remember which series had "Further Again" by Staggered Crossing?

    It had to be one of the Leafs/Sens Series - maybe '02?

  17. Yeah, Game 6 2009 Finals was pretty fckin sweet. The song was a cover of "In the Air Tonight" by a band called Nonpoint.

  18. The 2009 Game 6 had perfect lyric matching showing 2008 finals shots with lyrics like: "I was there and I saw what you did" and "I remember, I remember don't worry, how could I ever forget"

    speaking of Don Cherry though, how about the awful segment before the game 7 intro?

  19. @Al...

    That was a great example of matching lyrics. It's an under-appreciated but crucial piece of a good montage.

    The Cherry thing in the lake was OK, but not sure why they thought they needed to show it twice.

  20. Anyone else notice Chris Neil randomly disappear in the intro to the first one?

  21. The Staggered Crossing intro was in '02. Game six I think is right. Anyone have the video?