Is Ginette Reno the Canadiens version of the Flyers’ Kate Smith?

Kate Smith

It’s probably safe to say Michel Therrien wasn’t exactly universally embraced when he was hired for his second stint behind the Montreal Canadiens bench prior to last season. But it’s impossible to argue with his results.

Under Therrien, the Canadiens have a 75-42-13 record during the regular season and are 6-1 in the playoffs this year. They play with a sense of purpose and are businesslike in their approach. They stress self sacrifice, even though they don’t seem to embrace the notion that you actually have to win the possession game in order to be successful.

(On a side note, a total of 204 minutes and 17 seconds has been played between the Canadiens and the Boston Bruins in the first three games of their second-round series. Care to guess how long the Bruins have had a lead? A total of three minutes and 32 seconds.)

But perhaps the most significant contribution Therrien has made to the Canadiens is that apparently he was the one who extended the personal invitation to Ginnette Reno to sing O Canada at the Canadiens home games during the playoffs. The Canadiens are 3-0 with Reno in their starting lineup, prompting comparisons to Kate Smith, the legendary performer who sang God Bless America for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Here’s a tale of the tape for Reno and Smith:

RECORD

Smith: It’s unclear how many times she actually sang live in Philadelphia, but according to the Flyers media guide, Smith had a 3-1 record in which the Flyers outscored their opponents 10-6. The highlight was Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final in 1974, when the Flyers won 1-0 and their first Stanley Cup after Smith performed. In games where either a taped or live version of Smith singing God Bless America is played, the Flyers are a remarkable 94-26-4.

Reno: The Canadiens are 3-0 under Reno and have outscored the Tampa Bay Lightning and Bruins 11-7 in those games. The Canadiens have scored first in every game in which Reno has sang and have outscored their opponents 5-0 in the first period of those games.

LEGACY

Smith: The First Lady of Radio/The Songbird of the South

Reno: The Grande Dame of Music

ACHIEVEMENTS

Smith: Inducted posthumously into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1999. The only private citizen awarded the Legion of Valor medal.

Reno: Won Juno Awards in 1972, ’73 and 2001. Made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1982. Inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2000 and made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec in 2004.

PATRIOTISM

Smith: Her version of Irving Berlin’s God Bless America became a patriotic touchstone.

Reno: Has recorded hits in both French and English. Anyone who can prompt 21,273 people to sing O Canada in both official languages is clearly doing something right.

CONTROVERSY

Smith: Smith was known to be a staunch ultra-conservative Republican who opposed abortions, the Equal Rights Amendment, labor unions, affirmative action, socialism, communism, homosexuality, premarital sex, recreational sex and indecency.

Reno: Once sang at the wedding of a high-ranking member of the Hell’s Angels in Quebec and took a photo with leader Maurice (Mom) Boucher, who is currently in prison for murder.

And here’s a look at both in action: