The stories behind the goal songs for the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche

It’s a scene familiar to any NHL fan. The puck crosses the line. The crowd roars as the goal horn echoes through the arena. Then the beats of the team’s goal song hit, signaling a full-on celebration and Pavlovian responses from those in attendance.

In New York, the fans sing “whoa” and “hey, hey, hey” to “Slapshot,” which was written by MSG music director Ray Castoldi for the New York Rangers.

In Tampa, the “heys” of Mona’s song “Goons” follow those electrifying tallies from Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In Denver, “Chase The Sun” by Planet Funk is the untraditional goal song playing after the many, many goals by the Colorado Avalanche.

Here are the stories behind the songs for the three remaining teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“Slapshot,” New York Rangers

Ray Castoldi’s muse was the 1994 New York Rangers Stanley Cup championship, their first Cup win since 1940.

“Everyone was giddy. So let’s see if we can come up with a signature song for the Rangers that no one else had,” said Castoldi, who joined Madison Square Garden in 1991.

“Slapshot” debuted in 1995 when the Rangers’ Stanley Cup banner went up. It replaced a saxophone-driven tune written by Ed Kalehoff, who penned the themes for “The Price Is Right” and “Double Dare.”

The song begins with a slow build before the drums and vocals kick in. “You don’t want to get into it immediately. Everyone is jumping up and down and screaming. The [goal] horns give everyone a chance to get their bearings and then get to the part where they sing together,” Castoldi said.

Anyone who has watched a Rangers home game knows what’s next: the crowd singing along with “whoa-oh-oh-ooooh” and a staccato “hey … hey … hey, hey, hey!” Castoldi said that the song remains the original recording but that the arrangement has been changed over time. “If you listen back to the song in the 1990s, the ‘heys!’ were first and then the ‘goal’ chant was after. I think flipping it really helped it catch on,” he said.

Wait … the “goal” chant? Isn’t it the “whoa” chant?

“This is one of the mysteries. There’s lot of social media talk — it is ‘goal’ or is it ‘whoa’?” he said.

Mystery solved: Castoldi said the original intent was to sing “goal,” because that’s what the Rangers are scoring. But the recording is “whoa!” There were three or four people in the studio doing the vocal tracks on the song. They tried to sing “goal” as the chorus, but “it just didn’t sing as well,” Castoldi said.

“‘Whoa-oh-oh’ was easier to get sound on. ‘Goal-oh-oh’ was too strained,” he said. “So the record is ‘whoa.’ But please, sing ‘goal,’ everybody.”

Castoldi admits that the song didn’t captivate fans at first. “It took a few years for it to catch on. I’ve gone back and looked at Mark Messier‘s 500th goal. You hear the song, but you don’t really hear the crowd throwing it back yet. It took a while,” he said.

But once they got it, they got it, and “Slapshot” has been a part of the MSG goal celebration for decades.

“It’s great. I pinch myself every time. It’s just a thrill to have something I wrote be that well-received and have it coming flying back at me with such passion,” Castoldi said.

“It really has become part of the fabric of the Rangers.”

“Chase The Sun,” Colorado Avalanche

In 2001, Planet Funk released the song “Chase The Sun.” It was a modest hit for the Italian electronica group. A few years later, it became an unlikely sports anthem — as long as one considers professional darts to be a sporting event.

The song was adopted by Sky Sports for its coverage of darts. It’s played inside the arena during tournaments, to the delight of fans who chant through the song. It’s so iconic, there’s a three-hour version of it available on YouTube. They just refer to it as “The Darts Song” overseas.

The Avalanche started using the darts remix of “Chase The Sun” in 2017, and remain the only team in the NHL to use the track. Although it is a little disappointing that the arena has opted for “Hey! Hey! Hey!” instead of the “Oi! Oi! Oi!” one hears at darts.

“Goons,” Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning’s goal song is actually inspired by Frank Sinatra, although perhaps not for the reasons you’re thinking.

Nick Brown is the driving force behind Mona, an indie rock project created by the Nashville-based musician. When working on the second Mona album, he came across a quote from Sinatra that stuck with him.

“I heard a quote that Frank Sinatra said about rock and roll. He said that it wasn’t built to last and the people doing it were ‘cretinous goons,’ is what he said,” he said. “And he was really off about where music was going.”

The song “Goons (Baby, I Need It All)” was released in 2013.

“Muhammad Ali is only Muhammad Ali for so long. That’s why eras are so important, because they really are temporary,” Brown said. “It was that concept: Being aware that stuff changes. Eras change.”

But the song’s undeniably catchy hook was inspired by rock itself.

“It’s always been a victorious chant. As a songwriter, it was about how rock and roll can still matter. I love seeing it as a literal victory song,” he said. “Chants always bring people together. Even going back to when we were dancing around fires, beating on animal skins.”

The Lightning started using the song a year or two before they won the Cup in 2020. “The way I remember it was that someone sort of stumbled on it and thought it would be amazing for a goal song,” Brown said.

“I had fans coming to me and saying, ‘I think I just heard you on ESPN.’ And I’m like, ‘Who’s stealing my song?'”

Brown said his songwriting can be geared toward how the tracks will play in front of a crowd, but that he didn’t set out to make a goal song.

“I’ve played festivals and big shows all over the world. I think it’s very interesting and powerful to see the song used in a literal different arena and different context,” he said. “I remember when we went down there, I saw a little kid reach up and grab his dad and he was chanting ‘Goons!’ I was like, This is awesome to see.'”

The use of “Goons” coincided with an historic run of success for the Lightning, including back-to-back Stanley Cups. Brown couldn’t help but notice.

“It’s made a fan out of me. Before they started using my song, they didn’t have the records they have. I’m attributing that all to the song,” he said with a laugh. “And since hockey teams and fans are superstitious, they probably won’t change it any time soon.”

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