SASKATOON, Sask. — Many players have seemed overwhelmed by their first exposure to the Memorial Cup, so it would follow that stage fright could befall an anthem singer.
Alexis Normand, who performed, in a matter of speaking, the national anthems prior to Saturday's Portland Winterhawks-Halifax Mooseheads game, will probably be appearing on blooper reels for the next 10 years.
The Saskatoon singer, who performs folk and jazz music, started falteringly in front of the large crowd and a Portland team which is not only based in the United States, but also has 10 Americans in its lineup. The rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner seemed to unravel once Normand got to the third line. Then the "whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight" was bowdlerized into "those broad stripes and bright stars... at the dawn's early light." The Credit Union Centre crowd seemed amused initially. Eventually, thousands of Canadians came to the rescue and completed the lyrics.
Normand promptly tweeted an apology.
I'm embarrassed and deeply sorry. I wish I'd had more time to learn the American anthem. Thanks so much for the crowd's help! #memorialcup
— Alexis Normand (@Alex6Normand) May 19, 2013
It's probably for the best that this happened in Canada. Who knows how a crowd in the U.S. would have reacted.
Normand's explanation of "I wish I'd more time to learn the American anthem" might raise an eyebrow. It might be plausible that the fransaskoise performer was not used to performing it, let alone in front of crowd. The Blades only face the U.S. Division teams in the WHL every other season, so it's not like there's a big market in Saskatoon for people who sing The Star-Spangled Banner before a hockey game. Still, someone in Saskatoon was in charge of making sure a perform wouldn't embarrass herself and a city by extension. Perhaps that is who should be sorry for the blunder.
It is the second year in a row the Memorial Cup has had an anthem incident. In 2012 in Shawinigan, performer Jean-François Bastien opened his blazer to reveal a message protesting the environmental policies of Canada's Harper government after completing O Canada. Bastien did not perform again during the tournament.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org (video: Sportsnet).