Better three years late than never.
Green Day was supposed to ring in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey with an outdoor concert in Toronto, but when lead singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong came down with an illness, the iconic pop-punk band was forced to pull out with little warning.
The NHL scrambled and found Lenny Kravitz to fill in, securing the replacement just 24 hours prior to showtime, yet the league’s interest in collaborating with Green Day lingered.
"Even though we were upset, it was out of our control, and we all professed our love for each other," Steve Mayer, the league’s chief content officer, tells Sportsnet. "We’ve got to figure out what we can do together."
The Rock & Roll Hall of Famers — and noted hockey fans — stayed in touch with the NHL and have now plotted an expansive, multi-platform marketing and promotional partnership for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
Green Day’s brand-new “Fire, Ready, Aim,” off their forthcoming Father of All… album, will serve as the opening theme song for NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Hockey, debuting with the New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 9.
Green Day will also deliver the headline performance at the 2020 NHL All-star Game in St. Louis, and the NHL and NBC will incorporate the five-time Grammy winners’ tunes into suggested arena playlists and highlight packages.
"The band is hockey fans. The drummer, Tré Cool, is a big fan. These guys have been to games, but they’re not over the top as much as Tré is. He’s a San Jose fan who now, because he lives in Newport Beach, is becoming an Anaheim Ducks fan," Mayer explains.
"When we were together last week shooting a video, he was like, ‘I’m going to shoot you a list of all the games I want to go to. I want to sit on the glass.’ That’s music to our ears."
Mayer turned to Armstrong and bassist Mike Dint and said, "By the time we’re done with this, you guys are going to be as big of fans as he is."
Since the NHL hired the Emmy-winning Mayer in 2015, the league has cranked up its efforts to make musical waves, whether it’s Panic! At The Disco performing on a floating stage in front of the Bellagio fountains on the Las Vegas Strip at the 2018 Stanley Cup Final or Lil Nas X galloping through the No. 1 song in the country at Boston’s City Hall Plaza in May.
But Mayer has always wanted an "Are You Ready for Some Football?"–type anthem for the NHL’s weekly American flagship broadcast. He’s hoping the energy of "Fire, Ready, Aim" can become synonymous with hockey, and it’s important that Green Day will remain involved in the cross-promotion all season long.
"Given how much I’ve tried to integrate music into our world, this is significant for me," says Mayer, who believes the win-win relationship could evolve even further over time. "That’s why this is super exciting. The best is still yet to come, but we’re going to open with a bang."