DETROIT – Not sure who scored that last Red Wings goal?
Just wait for the music.
If it’s Sammy Hagar’s lust-for-speed anthem “I Can’t Drive 55,” then bruising defenceman (and wearer of the red-and-white No. 55 sweater) Niklas Kronwall put it in the net.
Crafty centre and Yekaterinburg native Pavel Datsyuk is responsible for the goal should a techno-infused version of the traditional Russian folk ditty “Kalinka” come blaring through the Joe Louis Arena speakers.
And, of course, the old cowboy song “Mule Train” could only mean burly forward Johan (Mule) Franzen is your guy.
Player-specific goal songs have been a staple at the Joe since T. Campbell took over as the team DJ 15 years ago.
“I think it gives a lot of flavour to the Wings and gives them character and personality,” Campbell said. “It’s something I haven’t heard around the league. When their players score, they always seem to throw on the exact same goal song.”
He’s got a song for every situation and then some. In all, he comes armed to each game with 1,500 songs at his fingertips.
And quite a few will fill the arena for the Stanley Cup finals between the Red Wings and Penguins, with the opening games in Detroit on Saturday and Sunday.
“The louder the better,” Wings defenceman Chris Chelios said. “It creates an atmosphere.”
“I don’t know how other buildings do it, but I like how they do it here,” he said.
It wasn’t always that way. In the pre-Campbell years, the team tried to pump up the crowd with old-fashioned organ-driven chants.
That all changed in the early 1990s when the Wings did away with the organ and brought in a DJ. The original DJ didn’t work out, so in came Campbell. He had been the music-spinner for Michigan State games at Munn Ice Arena.
“They know I have a feel for the game because I’ve been playing hockey since I was five years old,” said Campbell, who is 49 and whose three older brothers all played for the Spartans. He himself won two state championships as a prep player.
He continues to DJ at Spartan games and makes the 130-kilometre drive from his home in Okemos for every Wings home game – his license plate reads “HCKYTWN.”
Campbell arrives 2 to 2 1/2 hours before each game. He wears a suit and stands for the entirety in his perch high above the ice. His booth is behind press row, and he shares it with the replay official.
Campbell wears a headset to communicate with the onsite event producers and is surrounded by black and silver machines that help pump his music to the masses. The tracks are listed alphabetically, so all he has to do is turn a dial, click and button and whoosh – the song heads into 20,000 sets of ears.
At Wednesday night’s Western Conference championship clincher over Chicago, Campbell kicked off the pre-game festivities by spinning Kid Rock’s “Intro” chant, which goes: “It ain’t no party like a Detroit party/’cause a Detroit party don’t stop.”
When the Wings made their way through the tunnel and stepped on to the ice, Campbell quickly queued up the thrash-metal rocker “Adrenaline” by 12 Stones.
But his musical selections aren’t all rock tracks. He’ll play anything from techno, dance or trance tunes to rap and classic rock. On Wednesday, he even played the soft Kiss ballad “Beth” in honour of a young lady who earned a Zamboni ride between the first and second periods.
When the Blackhawks were whistled for a penalty, Campbell went with the “Dragnet” theme. And before the Wings power play began, he broke out the classic Darth Vader theme “Imperial March” from “Star Wars,” which sent the fans into a frenzy.
It was Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s classic rocker “Takin’ Care of Business” when Detroit goalie Chris Osgood made a key save.
“I have to keep a close eye on the game. It gets kind of tricky. I hate it if I ever miss a call,” said Campbell, who has grown a beard for the first time in honor of the team’s “The Beard is Back” post-season slogan.
Campbell said he sometimes will play “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd after a good Osgood save, but he put it on the shelf for the Chicago series because Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is nicknamed “The Bulin Wall.”
As for Campbell’s name, “T” is what he goes by personally and professionally. A cousin couldn’t pronounce his given name of Tim when they were kids – she simply said “T” – so the moniker was born and stuck.
“Everybody calls me ‘T,”‘ he said.