In search of a new U.S. and Canadian national anthem singer following Rene Rancourt's retirement, and after an online application process that received over 600 applicants, 52 performers have been selected to audition live at TD Garden.
The Boston Bruins will hold those auditions on Wed., Aug. 8 starting at 5:30 p.m. in the lower bowl of TD Garden.
The 52 invited will undoubtedly have big shoes to fill, as Rancourt's lovable stranglehold on anthems before puck-drop in Boston was something that lasted longer than even Rancourt thought possible.
“Mother nature is calling,” Rancourt said at the end of the 2017-18 season when asked about his decision to retire. “I’ve been trying to act very young. I’m fooling a few people, but Mother Nature cannot be fooled. I’m 78.
"Maybe I started to think of retirement at 68, so I’m a little late."
Originally an opera singer, Rancourt seized his chance and turned his pipes into a career that saw him sing the anthem before Bruins games for over 40 years, and was of course known for signature post-anthem fist-pumps that riled up the Garden crowd.
One of Rancourt's most memorable anthems was not sung by Rancourt at all, though, as he instead offered his microphone to a sold out TD Garden at Boston's first post-marathon bombing sporting event in 2013. It's a moment Rancourt admitted he was nervous about, but something he looks back on as one of his fondest memories throughout his run as a Garden legend.
"The reaction was something I will never, ever forget," Rancourt said. "That’s my proudest memory.”
It's believed that the Bruins will roll with a rotating crew of anthem singers in 2018-19, meaning that more than one of the 52 invited to the Garden will find themselves in search of the finest gold bowtie and vest money can buy.