2014 CBC NHL Montage Rankings

We are one week away from the NHL playoffs and now is as good a time as any to declare my love for CBC’s NHL montages. For those of you who don’t follow such things or have lives these montages are played prior to every game on Hockey Night in Canada on CBC. (Basically their PBS but with sports. I assume the play Downton Abbey as well.)

The clips are typically between 2 to 4 mins long and are accompanied by a song to hype up the game that weekend. Here a recent one…

The man behind these lovely pieces of hockey artwork is Tim Thompson the Toronto based filmmaker who cranks these out on a weekly basis during the season and on a nightly basis during the NHL playoffs. (Read this article on Tim for more info on him and how he puts these together.)

As you can read in that article each montage is carefully planned out with not only a song in mind but a story to tell about the game and the players itself. I was first introduced to these clips during the Pens run to the Stanley Cup in 2009 and I have looked forward to seeing them upon their release ever since.

I gravitate towards these videos for two main reasons. The first is I am insane. I can’t help it, I enjoy hype and the emotion that come from playoff hockey. The second reason is just that, these montages do the best job of capturing the emotion that come with a particular playoff series or about a rivalry or a particular player. As someone who rewatches old football and hockey games on the regular I find that I not only re-watch these games for the sports aspect but also the high level of emotion that happened during the event. Basically trying to relive the highs (and lows) that the NHL playoffs can bring out in a fan. (Again I get that is a bit much. Luckily I am not alone in this case.)

The purpose of this piece is to rank my favorite montages since 2009. I will explain each reason for each and I get that I have made it a bit “Buzzfeedy” by making it a top ten list. (Whatever we all read them even if we say we don’t.) So I hope you enjoy this list and feel free to comment if you see it differently or any montages that you find yourself rewatching. (Or in my case rewatching over and over (and over and over) again.))

Take note that reading and watching all of these will take time so I would set aside 45 mins. Its worth it, it will get you hyped up for next week…

10. The Adele Division: It is hard not to like a montage that includes an Adele song. It immediately becomes good just because of her but it also enhances an already heightened emotional experience. She made her debut in for the 2011 SCF Game 1 between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks. “Rolling in the Deep” was clearly her first big hit and that video aptly set the table for what would be a fantastic seven game series between the Canucks and Bruins.

My favorite montage involving Adele though is from Game 5 of the 2012 SCF between the Devils and Kings…

Here is the thing about that one, the series itself was pretty good but the idea of setting fire to rain still baffles me. I mean I don’t think that she means to actually do that but still she must have been really pissed at that guy that broke her heart to even think it up. Deep and dark stuff from Adele.

9. 2014 Winter Classic: There had been other Winter Classic’s and each had their own montages but I think I enjoyed the 2014 version of both the event and the CBC intro the best..

It helps that the game was at Michigan Stadium but this piece did such a great job of telling the story of two old rivals who had since been split in separate conferences for the past 20 years. The game itself was a bit sloppy but provided some legit entertainment for two playoff bubble teams.

8. 2011 Playoff Intro: Each NHL playoff gets its own intro from CBC and they are all similar in their broad way to capture the hype of the playoffs. The 2011 one is one of my favorites for the simple intro with the parade in Chicago and the guy going through the glass at the 40 second mark…

“Its four wins, four times and you get your name on that beautiful trophy.” So simple yet so tough to actually accomplish.

7. 2010 SCF Game 1 and 2 Flyers vs Blackhawks: Full disclosure the summer of 2010 was my Summer of George. It was my 2nd full summer in Chicago and had such a blast I didn’t even care that the Pens weren’t in the final. Plus I got to teach the people of Chicago how to root against Philly. These were fun times. (Ah youth.) Anyway the artists for for game 1 and 2 couldn’t be further apart and yet somehow it works…

Miss you Summer of 2010. xoxo

6. Overly emotional Canadian Captains: At times these intros seem to focus on individual players and that was never more evident than last season. Both the Blackhawks and Jonathan Toews were pushed to the brink by the Detroit Red Wings while the Penguins and Sidney Crosby were challenged by the Bruins. Each of the following intros focuses on each of their struggle…

One of these guys rebounded and led his team to the Cup while the other did not. I am still not ready to talk about it.

5. Fantastic Intros involving Rivals: As a Pens fans I hate the Flyers, Canadiens, Devils and the Rangers. The Devils frustrated the hell out of the Pens throughout the 90s and still do today. The Rangers broke Mario’s hand in 1992 and had Torts more recently. (Altho I miss him. Come back!) The Habs and Halak stopped the Pens chance to repeat in 2010 and the Flyers are the Flyers, the hate is implied. Yet for all of my disdain for these teams it is hard not to watch each of these intros from the 2010 and 2012 Eastern Conference Final and not get all jammed up…

The best part of that is Ron Hextall doing Ron Hextall things. Obviously

I enjoy how this one transitions from the fantastic seven game series in 1994 to the all out Torts line brawl game. (I miss you so much John.)

4. 2009 Pens intros: Game 7 vs Caps and Game 1 vs Detroit: I mentioned before that I first discovered these montages during the Pens run to the Cup in 2009 and I can be overly nostalgic about anything that happened that year. (The Steelers also won the Super Bowl so times were good. The economy was in great shape (I assume I don’t pay attention to such things), everyone was happy and healthy and Philip Seymour Hoffman was still alive.)

So when I first found the Game 7 intro to Pens/Caps series finale I thought it was just some nice little video someone on the internet put together. Little did I know I would still be watching this every time before the two teams play…

The game itself was a dud with the Pens rolling 6-2 and the rivalry hasn’t been the same since. It is still fun to look back at that series and wonder what could have been had Sid not faced injuries and the Caps not blown up their offensive machine. (Seriously how does Caps GM George McPhee still have his job? Everyone likes to blame Ovie but I don’t think he asked to have a system tailored made for his game thrown out the window.)

As much fun as the Caps series was the Stanley Cup Final against Detroit took everything to a new level. As a Michigan grad and someone who has family in Detroit this series was far more personal than any other hockey series I had or have ever experienced. The opener for Game 1 still gives me chills…

That beauty has been in retirement for the past few years but may get dusted back off here in a week. The Pens and Red Wings have a potential first round series matchup and don’t be surprised if I tweet that out everyday for two weeks straight during the series. Now if you excuse me I will stop thinking about it before I start screaming out loud and black out because of all of the EMOTIONS.

3. Playoff Closing Montages: The CBC playoff closing montages are probably the most popular of all their different kinds of montages. They take all of the great and heartbreaking moments of the two month playoffs and wrap it into a nice neat package. If your team is fortunate to win the Cup it is just another bonus that you get to look back fondly on your teams run. The Hawks fans get 2010 and 2013, the Bruins 2011 and the Kings get 2012. (There were ones prior to 2009 too but I don’t feel like linking them all.) 2009 is obviously special to me…

Good times

2. Dear Canada: Nessun Dorma: Leafs vs Habs: I joked last year that if the Habs and Leafs met in the playoffs that the opening CBC montages for their games would win an Oscar or Emmy or something. Unfortunately they did not meet but we were treated to something special this last November when the two met for Hockey Night in Canada. There was a lot of emotion that week in Canada as a new NHL TV deal had been announced and the future of HNiC was in doubt. Tim conjured up his magic that he normally reserves for playoff time…

I felt honored to just watch that. I now know that the Habs and Leafs probably shouldn’t meet in the playoffs because the emotion would probably be too much and Canada would cease to exist.

1. 2013 Season and Playoff Opener: The 2012-13 NHL was stressful on hockey fans mainly because there was no 2012 part to the season. The league locked it players out all the way through the beginning of January and there was legitimate concern that there would be no season. (The low point of the lockout for me was texting my Dad at 2 am “I miss hockey.” He responded by saying “I can tell you don’t have a girlfriend.”)

Fortunately they got a deal done and Tim was ready to unleash a beauty for the season opener…

Obviously anytime you set anything to “Dream On” it will fire you up but it rightfully captured the frustrations of the lockout and then got us all ready for a season that was short but significant. The Hawks opened their magical season with a record win streak and took that momentum all the way to a President’s Trophy.

What awaited for the playoff opener was my favorite montage yet and is many others as well…

Everything about that opening is perfect. It starts with a deadpan Phil Kessel, blasts “Baba O’Riley” and ends with enough emotion and energy I just want to jump out a window. (I haven’t yet. I am thinking about it tho. Good lord am I ready for playoff hockey.)

I look forward to what Tim has in store for us this postseason and I hope you took the time to appreciate all of his hard work.

Next week, get your minds right.


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