Boston Bruins: Rene Rancourt Frozen Out of Winter Classic


Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

In a case of blatant cross-promotion that is bordering on heresy, the NHL announced the entertainment lineup for the opening ceremonies for the 2016 Winter Classic and Rene Rancourt won’t be singing the anthem before the game begins, as he has done for the Boston Bruins for 40 years.  Instead, that honor will go to Jordan Smith, the ‘vocalist’ who won season nine of NBC’s singing competition ‘The Voice.’

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Smith is 22 years old and hails from Kentucky. When he was born, Rancourt had already been delighting Bruins fans for 18 years. If you take a conservative number of 15,000 fans per game, Rancourt had already performed for over 12,000,000 Bruins fans before Smith even took his first breath.

Rancourt is a legend to Boston fans, and is one of the noted opera singers in the world. This devastating news broke last night at almost the same time Rancourt was delighting the 17,565 in attendance at the Bruins-St. Louis Blues game with stellar renditions of Christmas carols during the second intermission.

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  • NESN play-by-play man Jack Edwards reacted with alacrity to this outrage, tweeting “Corporate TV is famous for tone deafness to what the audience wants, but here’s the petition if you want to sign it.” He then had the link ready for a petition urging the powers to be to not only allow Rene Rancourt to sing our National Anthem, but to also include Ginette Reno, an award-winning Canadian artist, to sing ‘O Canada’. Like Rancourt, Reno has been performing for 40 years, and recorded her first hit album 23 years before Smith was born.

    While NBC certainly has the rights (which they have paid for) to dictate who sings what, surely there’s enough room within the telecast to let Smith sing something that afternoon, and the let Rene Rancourt do what he’s been doing better than anyone else for decades.