Their heart will go on: How Celine's signature ballad became the Jets' victory anthem - Canadanewsmedia
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Their heart will go on: How Celine's signature ballad became the Jets' victory anthem

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LAS VEGAS — It might just be the most absurd victory song in all sports. And for the Winnipeg Jets, the bizarre idea for what has become their memorable rallying cry was born here in Sin City.

We take you back to last November, when this young squad was still struggling to find its way. They’d opened the season with a pair of painful back-to-back losses, which had some fans already reaching for the panic button.

And while they were able to right the ship fairly quickly, it wasn’t until after they touched down in Vegas that the Jets really got airborne.

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LAS VEGAS — It might just be the most absurd victory song in all sports. And for the Winnipeg Jets, the bizarre idea for what has become their memorable rallying cry was born here in Sin City.

We take you back to last November, when this young squad was still struggling to find its way. They’d opened the season with a pair of painful back-to-back losses, which had some fans already reaching for the panic button.

And while they were able to right the ship fairly quickly, it wasn’t until after they touched down in Vegas that the Jets really got airborne.

They had kicked off that particular three-game road trip with impressive 4-1 victory in Dallas, then flew to Vegas immediately after, where they enjoyed three full days between game action. On one of their off-nights, most of the team headed for the Omnia Nightclub in Caesars Palace. Some of the most popular DJs in the world were playing a benefit concert following the October mass shooting tragedy.

In between the thumping bass and pounding beats, Canadian songstress Celine Dion made a surprise appearance. And she belted out My Heart Will Go On, her famous ballad.

The Jets got thumped a couple nights later at T-Mobile as Vegas skated circles around them in a 5-2 win. But the following night, Winnipeg responded with an impressive 4-1 bounce-back victory in Arizona.

And veteran forward Mathieu Perreault decided to change things up with the post-game music playlist.

The Las Vegas Strip.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Las Vegas Strip.

“I thought I’d put it on after the game because we won the game, to make the guys laugh. And it just kind of stuck around with us,” Perreault told the Free Press Wednesday morning as his Jets prepared to take on the Golden Knights in Game 3 of the Western Conference final.

Winnipeg immediately went on a four-game winning streak, and a 9-2-1 run overall, which included a 7-4 victory on home ice over Vegas at Bell MTS Place. Being the superstitious sort and not wanting to mess with success, the players made Dion’s music a regular part of dressing room protocol.

The Omnia nightclub in Las Vegas, where several Jets players saw Celine Dion make a surprise appearance during a benefit concert.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Omnia nightclub in Las Vegas, where several Jets players saw Celine Dion make a surprise appearance during a benefit concert.

“She’s an icon of music. Even if you’re not from Quebec everybody knows about her. No one was against it for sure,” said Perreault. “We’ve had success playing it, so now we’ve just been going with it.”

Defenceman Josh Morrissey said building a winning team isn’t just about throwing the 20 most talented players out against the other team hoping for the best. Chemistry, both on and off the ice, is important. And even the smallest things, such as a funny victory song, help build that up.

“I think it was kind of a fun thing in the dressing room. Something that, over the course of a season, obviously it’s a long year. There’s lots of little things you can rally behind and have fun with. And that was one of those moments for sure that was pretty funny, that some guys got a good laugh in,” Morrissey said Wednesday. “Those are some of those fun times you remember when you look back on the season, things like that that develop over time.”

Of course, it’s worth noting that My Heart Will Go On is most famously linked to the Titanic movie. And given how that ended, some might question the logic of a sports team tying their hopes to a song famously related to a sinking ship.

Celine Dion impersonator Steven Wayne performs at The LINQ in Las Vegas on Tuesday. The real Celine's ballad "My Heart Will Go On" has become the Winnipeg jets victory song.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Celine Dion impersonator Steven Wayne performs at The LINQ in Las Vegas on Tuesday. The real Celine’s ballad “My Heart Will Go On” has become the Winnipeg jets victory song.

“It’s different, but whatever works,” said Christian Rivard, a Winnipegger who is in Vegas this week to watch the Jets along with his three brothers and their father.

“It’s an interesting thing, for sure,” said Nicolas Rivard.

“Let’s just hope the Vegas Golden Knights are Leo at the end,” added Jeremie Rivard, referring to actor Leonardo DeCaprio, whose character drowns in the movie.

If it’s a bad omen, the Jets don’t seem worried. And as they continue to navigate the waters of the Stanley Cup playoffs, they no doubt hope for continued smooth sailing.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

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WARREN GAME REPORT: Sens' Batherson scores winner in NHL debut, Anderson closes the door

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Senators 2, Red Wings 1

The firsts never seem to end for the Ottawa Senators.

The game-winner Thursday night at the Canadian Tire Centre came off the stick of Drake Batherson, who scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game. Batherson’s second-period power-play goal broke a 1-1 tie and the Senators nursed that tender 2-1 lead home for the final 33 minutes.

“I guess you couldn’t draw it up any better,” he said. “To score a goal in my first NHL game is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid. Scoring my first goal and having my whole family here. It was a special night.”

What made it all the more special is that goaltender Craig Anderson closed the door with the rarest of third-period performances. He stopped two — yes, two — third-period penalty shots to keep the Senators ahead.

Cody Ceci also scored for the Senators, while Michael Rasmussen replied for the Red Wings.

The first Red Wings penalty shot came was taken by Andreas Athanasiou with 10:50 remaining. The second was from Rasmussen with 4:01 left on the clock. Athanasiou was awarded his shot after being slashed by Cody Ceci. Rasmussen was given his attempt following a trip by Chris Wideman.

It was the first time the Senators had faced two penalty shots in the same game, let alone the same period.

“Their guys were on breakaways and we did everything we could to try and disrupt it,” said Anderson.

“It’s a penalty shot, so at least you know it’s one-on-one. You try and stay focused and not worry about the call or the penalty and what happened. Some mistakes are made that create that breakaway for the penalty shot, but you can’t worry about that.”

The Senators controlled the game for much of the first two periods, outshooting the Red Wings 28-19. The final tally was 36-35 in favour of the Senators, showcasing just how hard Detroit pushed in the third.

But if not for the play of Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, the Senators could and probably should have been two or three goals ahead by the end of the second.


Drake Batherson (79) celebrates his first NHL goal with teammate Mikkel Boedker.

Sean Kilpatrick /

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Rasmussen’s goal, a deflection of a Mike Green point shot past Anderson, had tied the game 1-1 early in the second period.

Coming in, the Senators had the benefit of rest, improved health and new blood.

Idle from game action since splitting a pair in Florida last weekend, the Senators welcomed back Zack Smith, who suffered a broken bone in his face on Oct. 26.

Batherson, who was called up from Belleville of the AHL after scoring seven goals and 13 assists in 14 games, was also inserted into lineup, with Max McCormick sitting out as a healthy scratch. On defence, rookie Christian Jaros sat out for the first time since being recalled from Belleville on Oct. 13, a stretch of 14 games.

While the Senators have been on a roller-coaster ride in the early going of the season, the Red Wings entered the CTC on a roll following a weak start. Before meeting the Senators, they had won four in a row and seven of their previous eight, climbing out of the Atlantic Division basement.

Athanasiou had strung together three consecutive one-goal, one-assist efforts.

For all that, the Red Wings came out sleepy and the Senators jumped on them.

An early Dylan DeMelo goal was disallowed — after video replay, it was deemed that Batherson had interfered with Howard — but Ceci scored with 31 seconds remaining, allowing the Senators to carry a 1-0 lead into the intermission.

Anderson wasn’t overly busy, but he stoned Justin Abdelkader in close with 2:30 remaining. Earlier in the period, Abdelkader lost a fight to Brady Tkachuk and was levelled by an open-ice hit from Mark Borowiecki.


Ottawa Senators defenceman Chris Wideman (6) blasts the puck past Detroit Red Wings left-winger Darren Helm (43).

Sean Kilpatrick /

THE CANADIAN PRESS

ROOKIE RALLY

With Batherson becoming the third Senator to make his NHL debut this season (joining Max Lajoie and Tkachuk), we took a closer look at how big an impact the Senators’ newcomers are having this season. Batherson also joins Lajoie in that rare group of players who have scored in their first big-league game.

Ottawa’s rookies (players who had played fewer than 25 games before the season started) had combined for a league-leading 17 goals and 30 points. Chicago is next up with 22 points, followed by Anaheim with 21 points and Vancouver with 19. Elias Pettersson, who appears to be a lock to win the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year, has 17 of those 19.

Nine NHL teams have yet to receive a goal from a rookie.

“It’s tough to rely on youth all the time, but we still have some older guys in here that are pulling their weight, too,” said Duchene, who is producing at better than a point-per-game pace. “We’re still really young as a team. There’s a lot to be excited about, but we haven’t done anything. We’re not where we want to be, but we’re going to keep pushing until we get there.”

WHAT ABOUT ZADINA?

On the topic of rookies, Detroit came to town without Filip Zadina, who was drafted sixth overall by the Red Wings in June. After being passed over by Montreal (who chose Jesperi Kotkaniemi) and Ottawa (who took Tkachuk), Zadina famously said, “I was telling my agent, if they will pass on me, I’m going to fill their nets with pucks.”


Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, who stopped two third-period penalty shots, celebrates a 2-1 win as Detroit Red Wings right-winger Gustav Nyquist (14) skates past.

Sean Kilpatrick /

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Great line, but right now Zadina is trying to fill American Hockey League nets with pucks. In 14 games with Grand Rapids, he has six goals and four assists. Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill says Zadina struggled with the “time and space” in the NHL during the pre-season and the organization will not rush his development.

“We will not bring him up until he’s ready to be a full-time NHL impact player and there will be shortcuts to the process here,” said Blashill.

AND THE OTHER TOP PICKS?

For those counting, first overall selection Rasmus Dahlin has one goal and six assists with Buffalo, second pick Andrei Svechnikov has tallied four goals and four assists with Carolina, Kotkaniemi has three goals and six assists with the Canadiens and Tkachuk went into Thursday’s contest with four goals and four assists in seven games. Centre Barrett Hayton, drafted fifth overall by Arizona, has eight goals and 13 assists in 14 games with Sault Ste. Marie in the Ontario Hockey League.


Ottawa Senators defenceman Chris Wideman (6), right, defends against the Detroit Red Wings Justin Abdelkader (8), middle left, and Luke Glendening (41).

Sean Kilpatrick /

THE CANADIAN PRESS

WATCHING CHABOT

 Thomas Chabot doesn’t qualify for rookie status because he had played 64 games before this season, but that also means he’s one year closer to restricted free agency.

We bring this up because Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun, who was a pending RFA, signed a six-year, $27.6-million extension earlier this week.

Chychrun is a solid player with great bloodlines — his father, Jeff, was a well-respected NHL tough guy and a fantastic shortstop growing up on the ball diamonds in Nepean — and the Coyotes clearly foresee a long future with him.

But if this is the going rate for players with that skill, stats and age — Noah Hanifin signed a six-year, $29.7-million deal in August — how high is too high when Chabot’s RFA status kicks in following the 2019-20 season? Some numbers to ponder: Chychrun had scored 11 goals and 23 assists in 119 games before signing; Hanifin scored 18 goals and 65 assists in 239 games in his first three seasons before signing.

Chabot, meanwhile, entered Thursday’s game with 14 goals and 33 assists in his first 82 games.

Before Senators general manager Pierre Dorion can go there, of course, he must deal with the pending unrestricted free agency status of Mark Stone, Duchene and Ryan Dzingel.

Clearly, the cycle of signing stresses never really ends for big-league GMs.

CAGE MATCH

Smith, to Senators content producer Craig Medaglia when asked about the potential advantages of wearing a full cage: “From what I’ve noticed, some guys who wear cages seem to grow six inches and become a little tougher … it (has) got its drawbacks, but I guess it has got its benefits, too. You are more protected around the net. You don’t have to worry about our (defencemen) shooting high when you’ve got a full cage.”

PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING

So you’ve had a tough day or rough week and you’re maybe thinking you’re dealing with too much stress at home or at the office? Do yourself a favour and check out the story of 13-year-old Julia Miller, a cancer survivor who dropped the puck, surrounded by her Kanata Rangers teammates,  before Thursday’s Hockey Fights Cancer game at the CTC. How about five rounds of chemotherapy, including 10 consecutive days of treatments at one stretch? For more details, you can find a full interview with the incredibly well-spoken Julia at TSN 1200-AM. Word to the wise: Keep a box of tissues nearby. You might just shed a tear or two.

kwarren@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/Citizenkwarren

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Harden scores 27 as Rockets rout Warriors

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HOUSTON — James Harden scored 27 points and the Houston Rockets routed the Golden State Warriors 107-86 on Thursday night in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference finals.

The Rockets (7-7), who announced before the game that they were “parting ways” with 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony, have won three straight and six of their last eight games after starting 1-5 to reach .500 for the first time since they were 1-1.

The Warriors, who were without Stephen Curry for the fourth straight game, have lost two of their last three. Curry has already been ruled out for Golden State’s next two games because of a groin injury.

Houston had a 13-point lead at the end of the third and opened the fourth quarter with a 12-2 run to make it 88-65 and spur Golden State coach Steve Kerr to call a timeout. The Warriors had two shots blocked and committed two loose ball fouls in that span to help Houston pad the lead. The Rockets got 3-pointers from James Ennis and Isaiah Hartenstein to cap the run.

The Rockets then scored the first nine points after the timeout, with six from Ennis, to make it 97-65 midway through the quarter and put the game out of reach. Both teams cleared their benches a couple of minutes after that.

Kevin Durant had 20 points for the Warriors on a night they were just 4 of 18 on 3-pointers.

Draymond Green had five rebounds and five assists in his return after serving a one-game team-imposed suspension for a dustup with Durant in Monday night’s overtime loss to the Clippers. Green addressed the situation for the first time after shootaround but did not apologize for his actions in the heated exchange.

He said he and Durant had spoken and that they were “moving forward.”

“I think there’s no secret that I am an emotional player,” he said. “I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I play with that same emotion. Sometimes they get the best of me. And (if) it doesn’t work to my favour I’m going to live with that.”

While the Warriors dealt with the drama between Green and Durant, the Rockets were left to answer questions about the decision to move on from Anthony.

Anthony played just 10 games for the Rockets after signing a one-year, $2.4 million deal during the off-season.

“In the summer we tried to hit a home run and it didn’t work out,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He tried everything he could. He was great while he was here. It just didn’t work out for whatever reason. I just thank him for his professionalism. It was good. He tried everything he could to make it work and it just didn’t work out.”

The Rockets led by six at halftime and opened the third quarter with a 7-2 run to stretch the lead to 54-43.

Harden scored five straight points to make it 63-47 after his 3-pointer with about 5 1/2 minutes left in the quarter.

Golden State got going on offence after that, using an 8-2 spurt to get within 65-55 a couple of minutes later.

Gary Clark ended the run with a 3-pointer, and two more 3s by him within a minute of each other late in the third extended the lead to 76-59. It was 76-63 headed to the fourth.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Curry was with the Warriors on the trip but it’s unclear when he’ll return. “We’re going to be very, very careful, and obviously he’s going to need plenty of court time before he returns,” coach Steve Kerr said. “When I say court time, I mean live action. He hasn’t had that.”… Kevon Looney scored a season-high 12 points.

Rockets: Gerald Green returned after missing the last two games with a sprained ankle. … Ennis finished with 19 points and Eric Gordon had 17 off the bench. … Houston made 16 of 47 3-pointers.

UP NEXT

Warriors: Visit Dallas on Saturday night.

Rockets: Host Sacramento on Saturday night.

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Bell: Nenshi whines sour grapes over Olympic loss

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Poor, poor Nenshi.

But we knew it all along.

Only a matter of time. Just the way the mayor rolls.

Yes, on Thursday, we get the next act.

Nenshi whines.

That’s what happens when a city kisses its mayor’s butt, treats him as a rockstar who can do no wrong but then his appeal wears thin and they turn against him and his pet project.

And Nenshi loses the Olympic vote.

Now we hear the complaining. Now we see the finger pointing. It’s someone else’s fault. None of this is on Nenshi.

Nenshi says both the provincial and federal governments “dithered.”

They are accountable for the Olympic loss.

He goes after the province.

“If you’re the province and you’re making a $700-million commitment for something, own it,” says Nenshi, admitting he’s not happy.

“Talk about why it’s a good thing instead of writing a press release in the middle of the night on a Friday and then disappearing.”

Your Worship, truth to power, they had to give you the money but they didn’t have to like it.

After all, if they hadn’t coughed up the cash, imagine the headline. Alberta Government Kills Calgary Olympic Dream.

They weren’t going there. They weren’t playing that game.

What’s this? Premier Notley is in Calgary on Thursday.

In this city and she doesn’t visit with Nenshi! What is the world coming to? Doesn’t she know who he is?

In fact, the mayor says no one from the province has talked to him since the Yes side lost. Oh dear.

Notley says it wasn’t appropriate for the Alberta government to go Yes or go No on the Olympic bid. They wanted to hear from Calgarians.

That’s why they demanded a plebiscite city council didn’t want to give Calgarians.

Ricardo Miranda, Notley’s culture minister, says Nenshi is looking for someone to blame.

No kidding.

Then Nenshi says the federal government’s sport minister fumbled the Olympics and “probably should be held accountable.”

Nenshi says the federal government could have announced their Olympic funding earlier.

The day before, Nenshi said the Yes side had terrific momentum and wondered what would have happened if the feds had come in earlier and Yes had more time.

Oh well.

Nenshi hasn’t heard from the federal government either. Sad.

The mayor doesn’t realize a lot of people voted No because Calgary city hall screwed up.

Remember the time when I held up a document on Olympic finances.

Remember the best parts were all blacked out and treated as top secret, including one whole page about revenue projections and expense projections and construction budget projections and financial guarantees.

That was a City of Calgary document.

City hall talked a lot about the Olympics but they didn’t say much that made sense.

Methinks even the Olympic bid people would have loved them to shut up.

But city hall didn’t.

They spent time telling us what they couldn’t tell us.

But, oh no, a No vote to the Olympics couldn’t be a failure of Nenshi’s leadership.

This is how city hall works.

When they screw up, they try to hide it or fudge it or pretend it isn’t there.

When that doesn’t work, it’s on to Plan B. Blame somebody else.

Taking some responsibility? Forget about it.

Putting the mirror up to someone else is so much easier than looking in the mirror yourself.

And, while we’re letting cats out of the bag, more than a few Calgarians voted No to the Olympics because they don’t like Nenshi.

Remember last year when Nenshi was re-elected with a very slim majority.

He’s a mere mortal now.

What could be worse for Nenshi on this day? The Olympic vote stats came out.

Let’s go ward by ward. Did they go Yes or No?

Ward 1. No. Ward 2. No. Ward 3. No. Ward 4. No. Ward 5. No. Ward 6. No. Ward 7. No.

Isn’t this fun?

Ward 8. Yes. The ward includes Mount Royal.

Ward 9. Really No. The ward includes Forest Lawn, Dover and Ogden. Way to go!

Ward 10. Really No. The ward includes Marlborough Park, Temple and Rundle. More great neighbourhoods!

Ward 11. No. A shout out to Braeside, Cedarbrae and Acadia, among others.

Ward 12. No. Riverbend, Cranston. Among the smart ones.

Ward 13. A big No. Nice to see Canyon Meadows on board!

Ward 14. No.

My oh my. Thirteen wards go No and one ward goes Yes.

Somebody is out of touch. Who could it be?

Does his name start with a N?

rbell@postmedia.com

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