Rene Rancourt (Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Beloved Bruins anthem singer Rene Rancourt, who is celebrating 40 years with the Bruins this season, won’t be singing the anthem at the Winter Classic. The honor will instead go to Jordan Smith, the season nine winner of NBC’s ‘The Voice.’
Bruins anthem singer Rene Rancourt holds a special place in the hearts of Boston faithful. His exuberance after singing The Star-Spangled Banner has made him a fan favorite and a mascot of sorts. But Bruins fans hoping to hear Rancourt and watch his furious fist pumps before the Winter Classic are going to be sorely disappointed.
The NHL announced the lineup for the opening ceremonies for the 2016 Winter Classic and it turns out Rancourt won’t be singing the anthem before the game begins. Instead, the honor will go to Jordan Smith, the vocalist who won season nine of NBC’s singing competition ‘The Voice.’
Smith’s performance of the anthem will be accompanied by the Boston Pops, the famed orchestra. The 22-year-old Kentucky native will follow American Authors, who will serve as pre-game entertainment for the contest. Nate Ruess, of fun. fame, will perform during the first intermission.
Rancourt, 76, has been a mainstay with the Bruins and has sung the anthem regularly since 1976 — he celebrated 40 years as the Bruins’ anthem singer this season. In an interview before the season, Rancourt talked about his career, and also told The Boston Globe’s Thomas Farragher about the fist pumps. Rancourt said they were part of his routine because it helps give him a boost.
“That’s why the pump is so important,” Rancourt told Farragher. “Because the pump is for me. I’ve never admitted that before to another human being, not even my wife. The pump is for me because when you get to my age, I don’t care who you are, you’re going to need help. You can only kid yourself so much.’’
Rancourt is such a beloved part of the organization that when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, he received his own ring.
Smith’s presence on the game appears to be an attempt at cross promotion as the Winter Classic will be broadcast in the Untied States on NBCSN. The Winter Classic takes place Jan. 1 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., which is the home of the New England Patriots.
It’s hard to say how Bruins fans will react to a Rancourt-less anthem at the Winter Classic, but if Smith throws out a few fist pumps, he might be able to win over some of those in attendance wearing the spoked ‘B.’