Today is the first day of the Stanley Cup playoffs. One performer will be on the ice today that, for a while at the end of the season, I thought might be out for health reasons. Mark Donnelly is the Vancouver Canucks’ anthem singer. This is Mark early in the season:
After Christmas, Mark visibly lost weight. Sometimes there was another singer. Clubs do pull in substitute singers for reasons that escape me — an opera singer in Ottawa had everyone on both benches laughing as she stretched a minute of song into almost five — but coupled with Mark’s weight loss, I was afraid that he might be really sick. Here’s how he looked in March:
I was relieved to discover that Donnelly was not ill, only dieting. He lost 172 pounds and may decide to lose more. Mind you, the way he did it has people talking: he subsisted on a 500 calorie-a-day diet and took shots of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), also called the pregnancy hormone, to suppress his appetite. This is not a regimen that doctors recommend. Some say that HCG has no effect on appetite; Mark says, “It worked for me.”
Of course, Donnelly’s loss would be a tremendous blow to the Canucks. Back in the day, it was organ players who were thought to provide musical boosts to victory. Hockey anthem singers only began to be recognized as integral parts of the team after Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” took Philadelphia to a Stanley Cup. There’s only a couple of teams in the NHL that still have organists. Which brings me to my modest proposal: Vancouver should bring back the organ. A good organist plus Mark Donnelly would guarantee us a great season and post-season triumph!