Looking for the perfect beat.
What is the first song we should crank in the dressing room when we bounce off the ice all giddy and sweaty and high-fiving after a big victory?
“New season, new team, new dynamic,” says winger James van Riemsdyk. “You gotta change it.”
So when the Maple Leafs began their 2017-18 campaign, they had to retire last season’s win anthem, Wes Walker & Dyl’s frivolous frat-boy rap track “Jordan Belfort.”
Full disclosure: Music runs neck-and-neck with hockey as my No. 1 passion. Out of curiosity, I began asking members of these Leafs to reveal their current celebration soundtrack months ago.
Nazem Kadri is the dressing room’s resident game-night DJ. Kadri, a big Drake supporter, not only amps the kids up with pre-puck-drop hip-hop and upbeat dance anthems, but he also supplies the Air Canada Centre’s in-house DJ, Cale Granton, with a playlist of his (censored) favourite tracks. Granton is then free to mix from Kadri’s list during the Leafs warm-up.
It goes over well, and provides a sharp contrast from the more folksy and countrified selections Jake Gardiner cues up for morning skates.
“I don’t mind the morning. It’s nice soothing music Gardiner plays,” says Auston Matthews. “I’m a pretty big fan of rap music.”
When you catch footage of a styled-out Matthews walking into the building on game night with cordless iPhone earbuds fastened to his brain, there’s a good chance he’s listening to rap. (That Kendrick Lamar’s “Money Trees” is a Matthews favourite proves his smart taste extends beyond the fedoras and sock-free dress shoes.)
But what song do the Leafs listen to post-win? It only took this guy about 12 weeks of casual digging to unearth the track.
We asked Kadri about six weeks into the season, and he played coy, saying the guys were still trying out a couple of contenders but had yet to settle on an anthem.
Matt Martin said that us reporter types flood into the room so quickly after the buzzer, he’s not even sure. He’s right. Barring an emergency lecture or closed-doors meeting, the average elapsed time between the final buzzer and the post-game media availability is about four-and-a-half minutes. One song’s worth of joy.
“It feels like we just get our helmets off and you guys are in here,” Martin said. “I’m not sure what song it is.”
Trying to be helpful, Martin asked an equipment manager, who just shrugged.
“Yeah, I’m not sure what it’s called,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s like a techno-y song. You’ll have to ask some of the other guys. It’s a deep-house, techno song. It’s fine. We’ve had some better ones over the years, but this one’s fine.”
Morgan Rielly quickly threw up a roadblock. But after some pestering, he lent some insight into the selection process and left a trail of breadcrumbs.
“I don’t know if I can say what it is. It’s kinda private, I think,” Rielly smiled.
“You start off with one [win song]. During training camp, you’re playing music in the room, in the gym, during scrimmage or whatever. The conversation will happen between a few of the older guys about what the win song is going to be. You sample a couple, and usually by the first game of the season you know what it’s going to be.”
Can you at least tell me what genre it is?
“It’s hip-hop. Well, it’s hip-hop, rock, whatever. I dunno. I don’t know what half these bands are nowadays. Kids these days,” Rielly said.
“Bozie suggested it. He’ll probably tell you. He’s not a good poker player.”
Boom. It’s not how often you ask; it’s whom you ask.
So, Tyler Bozak, what is the Maple Leafs’ win song?
“We’ve been playing ‘Boom’ by Tiesto [and Sevenn],” said Bozak, solving my mini mystery without hesitation. “It was kind of a mutual thing. Early pre-season we might’ve thrown it on, and then we’ve just stuck with it. Guys liked it. It was working, so we stuck with it.”
Great. I can slide my silly curiosity back in the crates.
“Probably we’ll change it up,” Bozak adds. “It kinda gets old hearing the same song all the time, so we may change it.”