If you've followed the Wild even casually over the past 16-plus years, you are familiar with the "State of Hockey" song.
Written and composed by the late John Olson, it debuted at the Wild's first home game on Oct. 11, 2000. It starts, "We were raised with the stick and a pair of blades; on the ice we cut our teeth." And from there, it continues with a celebration of hockey and its connection to Minnesota.
Per tradition, the song is played during the first intermission, right before the Wild returns to the ice for the second period.
But when the Wild returns to Xcel Energy Center for its next game March 18, fans will hear something different at that moment: one of seven new versions of the song, all of which will be rolled out during the seven home games between March 18 and April 2.
"I think fans love that moment when we play the 'State of Hockey' anthem — there's always a great cheer that comes up at the end of it," said John Maher, the Wild's VP of brand, content and communications, who worked on the project in collaboration with Olson, the local creative agency founded by the song's original composer. "But we were wondering: What would it sound like if some other bands took a shot at it?"
Soul Asylum was among the groups to take the Wild up on its offer. Local hip-hop group Doomtree did a version. So did Haley (formerly Haley Bonar, the local artist who announced this week she is changing her performance name to just her first name).
The seven versions cover a variety of music genres. They are perhaps more musically complicated than the original, which Maher deems "just kitschy enough that people really liked it."
Having been granted a preliminary listen to many of the versions, I can say this: I don't love them all, but I at least like most of them (particularly the Doomtree version).
"I'm really excited about how many local artists were excited to be attached to it," Maher said, adding he hopes others will contribute additional versions. "A lot of them have ties to hockey in their families."
You can hear the songs before that March 18 game when they are all released Monday on the website Pledge Music — with proceeds related to the new versions going to the organization's charitable Minnesota Wild Foundation. In addition, the Wild's radio broadcasts will feature the songs.
Given some of the fan consternation over the Wild's decision to change its goal song from Joe Satriani's "Crowd Chant" to Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" this year, Maher wanted to make it clear that these new "State of Hockey" versions are not replacing the original — rather, they are additions. And the lyrics, it should be noted, are the same.
"We hope that with casual fans, it gives them another way to connect to the Wild," Maher said. "There certainly is something to loving the tradition of the original version. I think as they hear the new versions they'll find things to like about all of them."