When you come to the MTS Centre, you hope to see your favourite team play an exciting, edge-of-your-seat hockey game with the added bonus being that the Jets walk away with two points after 60 minutes.
What you don’t really think about is what would that two or three hour experience be like without the light show, intro video and maybe most importantly- without the music? Well you’re thinking, “Jets fans are the loudest in the league” – that is very true but it might be tougher than you think to create the same atmosphere if there were no other sites or sounds in the building.
The Jets production team, consisting of Director of Event Production, Kyle Balharry, Managers of Visual Media, Steve Godkin and Curtis Robson, Event Production Coordinator, Nate Rollo, along with a handful of part-time support staff are the masterminds behind the entire show: The power rings you see circling around the arena and on the bottom of the score clock, the 'GET LOUD' messages that flash when we need a boost of energy, the goose-bump intro video, the headshots, the stats, the music, the lights, and pretty much everything else that pops up on that magical big screen suspended from the roof, is all produced by the production crew.
Balharry’s job is to create and execute a very intricate script each event night while ensuring the fans and players in the building have the best possible hockey experience. He must work within strict guidelines with the script making sure every sponsor ad is placed into the right spot weather it is on a power ring, in an announcement or on the score clock while also making sure everything happens on time and is top quality. After he writes the golden script, he then works with the rest of the crew to create the final product.
Jets hockey speaks for itself when it comes to creating an electrifying atmosphere inside the MTS Centre. With that said, there is also something to be said about the music and production aspect of the show.
“We’re saying, 'Hey, you’re loud, but we want you louder!'," said Godkin. "When it gets calm, we poke at them and you can literally hear the building get to the next level, it’s amazing. There is a time and a place for every message, so we have to pick our battles.”
How do they know what music to play and when? The process is lengthy but as a group, they find a way to select a chunk of music, rate it, and narrow down the list over and over until they find the perfect songs for each situation.
“We get together as a group, to have music meetings in the off season,” explained Godkin. “We sit in a room and listen to a ton of music and sort it into categories because everything has a situational value. The entire crew is always listening to music and constantly searching for the perfect sound to put to the perfect moment.”
Prior to the first puck drop on the inaugural Winnipeg Jets 2011-12 season, the production team had to agree on a couple of very important songs that would become signature Jets songs. The team entrance song, the goal song and the Win song.
Right now the goal song is “Hell Yeah” by Rev Theory.
“The song first came about when a music company sent me a disk with only one song on it,” Balharry remembered. “I put it aside until one day I listened to it and thought, wow, this is awesome. When it came time to choose playoff music for the 2008 Manitoba Moose playoff run, I remembered the song and played it for the crew and we decided to use it. Unfortunately, we were eliminated in the first round, which limited the use of the song to only three games. Later that playoff season, "Hell Yeah" was used by the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals and the song went viral from there.
"When it came time to choose a goal song for the Jets, we did some research to find the songs used by every NHL team. We found many teams were using the same songs and we wanted to be distinctive and different from everyone else. We made a short list of potential songs and “Hell Yeah” was on it. We quickly decided that Winnipeg hockey fans had only heard this song at three games in 2008 so, it would still be fresh yet give the energy and excitement we were looking for."
The intro song for the Jets is “No Money” by Kings of Leon.
“We wanted to find music that created an epic atmosphere that gave the fans a surreal feeling of anticipation and excitement," said Balharry. "One night I was listening to music at home and came across the song by Kings of Leon that gave me that surreal feeling we were searching for. I then sent it to the rest of the crew to see if they had the same feeling. They did, and from there, we edited it to add some sound effects... and the rest is history. We feel that when the Jets step on the ice, it gives the fans the emotional connection we were hoping for."
The Jets Win song is “Learn to Fly” by the Foofighters.
“It was another song we wanted to make distinctive," Balharry explained. "The feeling in the building when the team wins should be extraordinary. It's two minutes that you need perfect music for and we wanted something that matched our team identity. Something that was upbeat and celebratory that stirs the feel good emotions inside. After an extensive search, we landed on a well-known song that was everything we were looking for."
Although things are still busy around the True North offices and inside the production room, the dust is finally beginning to settle since the last Jets game of the 2011-12 season. The production team must now regroup and refocus, as they get ready to start all over again in October.
"The production crew is made up with a great group of avid hockey fans who are truly passionate about our team. We all play a huge role in making sure our fans and our players have the best hockey experience possible, every night, all season long."