Rock stars enjoy certain fringe benefits that go along with selling out arenas and moving albums by the millions. And if they're really lucky, they get to contribute a rally song to their favorite NHL team's march through the Stanley Cup playoffs.
By the time his band, Loverboy, was among the 1980's biggest musical acts, singer Mike Reno was rubbing elbows with several members of the Vancouver Canucks, including longtime captain Stan Smyl. Now serving as host of the Bro Jake Show on Vancouver's Classic Rock 101 radio station, Reno hasn't forgotten about his hometown team.
"One of my best friends is Garth Bathgate; his uncle is Andy Bathgate. I've always been connected with hockey," Reno said. "We did a sellout show in Vancouver, I believe it was 1982. We had just returned from a worldwide tour and I had bought my mom a car and put it backstage. During the show, I came out for an encore and I had the "King" Richard [Brodeur] jersey on. He was the No. 1 goalie in the League at the time and the crowd went extra crazy."
After enjoying hit singles like "Turn Me Loose" and "Working for the Weekend," the latest addition to Reno's repertoire is "Flying High," a new song dedicated to the Canucks' current postseason run. The song, which can be heard here, has appeared on the team's web site and found regular rotation on Classic Rock 101.
"We started putting it on the radio and got a lot of responses to it," Reno said. "Now we're playing it two times in the morning every morning. And it seems to be our good luck charm, because every time we play the song, the team wins."
Reno is no stranger to sports superstition. Former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo had him sit in the same seat for each of his team's Super Bowls, all wins. It was just the latest sports adventure for a band that performed at an Olympic medal ceremony in Vancouver in 2010 and opened the 1988 Games in Calgary. Before then, their greatest sporting achievement may have been keeping pace with their NHL buddies.
"On the road, we used to play all the arenas. I remember every time Detroit would come out to our concert, I would go to their game," Reno said. "Those guys could party. In the 80s, it was all about who could party harder, the rock stars or the hockey players. I know things have changed."
The current Canucks season coupled with the radio play for "Flying High" has made the past few weeks an exciting time for Reno. But the singer's single hockey highlight may have come last season, when he shared a suite at Rogers Arena alongside Gordie Howe, Yvan Cournoyer and the Stanley Cup.
"[Howe] told one story I really couldn't believe. [As a player] he took a head injury and his brain started to swell and they had to drill a hole in the side of his head," Reno said. "He said they just took a drill and tapped a little hole in his side. That was the old days, when men really played hockey the old fashioned way."
For Reno, the only thing that could surpass the experience of talking shop with Mr. Hockey would be a Stanley Cup in Vancouver.
"I think Canada deserves to have the Stanley Cup proudly displayed in a Canadian city," he said. "And I can't think of a better city than Vancouver."