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Free To Be - The Maple Leafs Anthem

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs

The concept of Free to Be, insist artist and patron, was to unite.

Still, the Maple Leafs anthem which ends with the words ‘this is Canada’s team,’ has left some fans in NHL cities signing a different kind of tune.

They see a world view of Torontonians that extends only from the Don to the Humber.

The proud reaction of many Leafs fans delighted musician Alan Frew, who introduced a skeleton of a song he was pitching for the Vancouver Olympics to Maple Leafs COO Tom Anselmi in 2009. The two were among a contingent that included Maple Leafs alumni visiting troops in Afghanistan.

Frew, lead singer of Glass Tiger, wanted a song that worked on two levels.

First, it should unite Leaf fans and infuse them with pride in what has been a difficult rebuilding process.

“If you go to a football game where my team, Glasgow Rangers is playing, there are all kinds of songs,” Frew said.  “Those songs remind you that regardless of whether your team wins or loses, you support them.”

“I’m a Leafs fan. I have debated with Montreal friends about the identity of Canada’s team and I will do so again. It’s fun. But from the point of view of a Leafs fan, the Leafs are Canada’s team just as a Canadiens’ fan will say the same thing about his team.

“If Canadiens fans want a song about Montreal being Canada’s team, someone should write one.”

Frew has spent hours pressing that point in interviews.

“I think the song reflects what the fans thing of our team,” Anselmi said. “To me, it’s inclusive, not exclusive.”

Anselmi points to another angle of the song’s value.

“The Leafs are Canada’s team in that this song is for all of us. We’re from all over the world. This city is Canada’s team as well because it is so diverse,”

“It’s beginnings were as a homage to the country,” said Frew. “I think it still is.”
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