Big deal! Last Sunday, November 16, I sang the American and Canadian anthems at the FirstOntario Centre for the Hamilton Bulldogs vs Rochester Americans game. Big deal, right? After all, I’ve sung in public many times. Singing in front of people isn’t that big a deal to me. And growing up in Montreal, home of the Montreal Canadiens, I expected that singing for an AHL team wouldn’t be that big a deal either. I mean, this isn’t the NHL. This isn’t the Big Leagues.

However, I’ve got to tell you that when I stepped onto the red carpet, walked to my spot on the ice, and saw the Hamilton Bulldogs and the Rochester Americans lined up facing me and the flags, everything changed. It WAS a big deal. Do you know how many games I’ve watched on Hockey Night in Canada with this time-honoured pre-game ritual? Do you know how many Olympic games and other international games I’ve watched which all started with this image of the two teams lined up to hear the singing of the national anthems?

That’s what rushed through my head the instant I got to my microphone.

Then I opened my mouth to sing and I was taken by the degree of the echo. My voice reverberated so much, I’d never experienced anything like it.

Before I stepped on to the ice, I thought this wouldn’t be a big deal. I was happy and honoured to do it, of course, but I didn’t think it was a huge deal. But I was wrong. It was a thrill and a real honour. I was singing for the Montreal Canadiens‘ AHL affiliate. Some of these guys are going to be playing for my favourite team. Some of these guys, those on the Bulldog and those on the Americans, will be playing in the NHL. Also, I realize that I was now a part of this beautiful tradition and glorious game that I’ve loved all my life.

Big deal! Yes, it was.