Music in NHL locker-rooms a balancing act

Rookies don’t get a shot at the speakers

Music in NHL locker-rooms a balancing act

Michael Del Zotto realized he needed a hobby.

One of the only single players on the Philadelphia Flyers a couple of seasons ago, the defenceman would usually head home following practice, watch TV all afternoon and have dinner before returning to the couch.

“I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to do something a little more productive with my down time,’” Del Zotto recalled.

So he got back into the saxophone — an instrument he gave up after leaving home as a teenager to play junior hockey — and bought some disc jockey turntables to mix electronic music.

“Like anything now you can go on YouTube and teach yourself,” said Del Zotto, who signed with the Vancouver Canucks this summer. ”I got to the point where I was playing music in the locker-room and making mixes for warmups.

“The boys started loving it and it just took off from there.”

With players from a wide range of backgrounds and countries, it’s not surprising musical tastes tend to vary in NHL locker-rooms. Some like country, while others prefer electronic, rock or hip hop to help get in the right frame of mind.

“When you make stuff for in the room it’s understanding what guys like or throwing in some random stuff they won’t know that they may like,” said Del Zotto. ”It’s tough when you have guys that like different genres to keep everyone happy.

“I like to personalize it a little bit.”

Despite being new to the Canucks, Del Zotto already rules the roost when it comes to music selection heading into his ninth NHL season.

“That’s his job now,” said Vancouver centre Bo Horvat. ”He swooped into that role and he’s taken it over.

“He does a good job of getting the boys going.”

Meanwhile in Winnipeg, forward Bryan Little said the gatekeepers are Jets captain Blake Wheeler and centre Mathieu Perreault.

There’s only one real rule — rookies need not apply for the job of team DJ.

“It kind of goes a bit by seniority,” said Little. ”We don’t want the young guys getting their hands on it or we might be listening to ‘High School Musical’ soundtracks.”

Entering his fourth season, Horvat said he knows that music remains a veteran’s domain.

“Do not touch the music,” said Horvat, 22, who led the Canucks in scoring last season. ”I’m four years in and still don’t touch the music.”

Senators captain Erik Karlsson and forward Zack Smith usually get dibs on the tunes in Ottawa.

“Zack is more an alternative rock kind of guy, some old school stuff and that’s more the stuff I like,” said winger Bobby Ryan. “I’ve heard a lot of (Karlsson’s) Swedish music … and there’s only four guys who can relate to it.”

Maple Leafs defenceman Connor Carrick said fellow blue liner Jake Gardiner and centre Nazem Kadri are the music maestros in Toronto.

“Gards, usually he’s the morning (guy), a little more country, a little more laid back,” said Carrick. ”Naz will pick it up for the afternoon.

“The beats per minute on his songs are a little higher, so it gets you going pre-game.”

Del Zotto said age and where players are from often has a big impact on what they want to hear.

“In New York, (former Rangers forward) Brad Richards used to like his old school rock,” he said. ”In Philly, (Jakub) Voracek loved AC/DC and Bruce Springsteen.

“I don’t know how that gets him pumped up. The odd time he’d toss some of that on, and I know for sure I wasn’t the only guy complaining.”

While most NHLers might playfully argue over music, Del Zotto has a unique perspective. He performs his own shows in the off-season and has gotten to know a number of big-name DJs, including Dutch superstar Tiesto.

“I’ve been able to watch them in the studio, watch them perform live and learn a little bit,” said Del Zotto. ”It’s something I’ve really enjoyed doing.”

“I went to his apartment a couple days after he got to Vancouver,” added Canucks forward Jake Virtanen. ”He was spinning with his DJ set for me and (defenceman Ben Hutton) for a solid hour.

“It was cool for me to see how he did it.”

But veteran Vancouver winger Daniel Sedin is less enthused about Del Zotto’s musical tastes.

“I hope it’s not him because it’s been pretty horrible,” the 37-year-old joked. “(Hutton) was doing it last year for a bit, but it didn’t really work out so he’s fired.”

A country fan, Canucks forward Brandon Sutter said he doesn’t mind electronic music for pre-game, adding that he respects Del Zotto for putting himself out there.

“The younger guys seem to love it,” said Sutter. “If you don’t have the (guts) to put the music on yourself, you can’t make fun of the person who does.”

— With files from Neil Davidson in Toronto, Judy Owen in Winnipeg and Lisa Wallace in Ottawa

—-

Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

vancouver canucks

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C.’s public health restrictions on non-essential travel are reinforced by orders effective April 23, 2021 to stay within your own regional health authority except for essential travel such as work and medical appointmens. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 non-essential travel ban takes effect, $575 fines approved

Checks on highways, ferries between Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Interior

Bulldogs forward Stephen Castagna chases down the puck during a game against the Surrey Eagles in 2019. ELENA RARDON PHOTO
BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs scoring leader commits to NCAA

Castagna is the sixth Bulldog to secure an NCAA Div. 1 scholarship this season

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map shows new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 11-17. (BCCDC image)
BCCDC says fresh COVID-19 cases down in most Island Health areas

Nanaimo sees its fewest new COVID-19 cases since mid January

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
AstraZeneca vaccine appointments fill up fast on Vancouver Island

More pharmacies expected to be added as supply increases

The bulk carrier ‘Port Alberni’ is berthed at CentrePort in Wellington, New Zealand on Monday, April 12, 2021. The carrier is 174 metres long by 29 metres wide, flies under a Hong Kong flag and was carrying logs. (CHARMEAD SCHELLA/Special to the News)
Logging ship a trip down memory lane for transplanted Canadian

The 174-metre ‘Port Alberni’ is registered in Hong Kong

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada buys 65M Pfizer booster shots for protection against COVID-19 variants

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the deal with Pfizer includes options to add 30 million doses in both 2022 and 2023, and an option for 60 million doses in 2024

An early morning fire along Cameron Street has left two cats dead and two tenants homeless. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Early morning fire guts Victoria house, leaves 2 cats dead

Victoria Fire Department called out shortly before 2 a.m.

A plan flew over the Lower Mainland with a sign expressing some Canucks fans’ discontent with the team’s general manager. (Niqhil Velji - Twitter Screenshot)
#FireBenning movement gets off the ground in Metro Vancouver

Canucks fans raise enough money to fly banner over Metro Vancouver asking for team GM to be canned

The Better Business Bureau is reminding people to do their research before starting any home improvement projects this spring. (Black Press Media file photo)
Don’t get scammed on home improvements, warns Better Business Bureau

Scams typically involve paying cash upfront for jobs that never get done, says BBB

The freed osprey keeps a wary eye on its rescuers after being deposited on its nest. (Photo credit: Greg Hiltz)
Hydro crew in Ashcroft gets osprey rescue call-out they won’t soon forget

Bird was tangled in baling wire hanging from a hydro pole, necessitating a tricky rescue

Auto thief in black balaclava trying to break into car with screwdriver. (Pixabay photo)
Island hikers and park users warned to keep valuables in vehicles out of sight

Spring weather draws more hikers out to rural parking lots, where thieves are at work

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks to media at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday February 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to announce travel restrictions today to limit COVID-19 spread

Mike Farnworth is expected to give details of what the government views as essential travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read