The Saskatchewan Shockers are trying a new marketing campaign this season. In previous seasons, the Shockers have been famous (or infamous) for their off-the-wall promotions, which frequently went wrong in spectacular and embarrassing fashion. The mere mention of sumo, kazoos, or blimps is enough to send a shiver down the spine of Saskatchewan’s marketing department. (Don’t even talk about the kid’s book.)
Heading into 2019, Shockers owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz dialed back some of his grandiose visions, and instead wants to focus of celebrating the team’s local roots. “This is Saskatchewan’s team, baby!” Doofenshmirtz said. “We want the world to know that we’re proud Saskatchewanders! Um, Saskatchewanians? Saskatchewanists? Uh, I mean… Saskatchewan people! We’ve got maple syrup in our veins, and we want to celebrate that. I mean, not literally maple syrup – that would be kind of sticky and weird. You know what I mean.”
As part of their new local focus, the Shockers are hosting post-game concerts from Saskatchewan artists such as The Sheepdogs and Wide Mouth Mason. They’ve added offerings from local restaurants to their concession stands. And they’ve completely revamped the team’s entrance. Previously, the team hit the ice to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” Now, their entrance music is the 1972 Guess Who song “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon.” (They continue to play “Thunderstruck” to celebrate goals.) The song was penned by Guess Who frontman Burton Cummings, a native of Winnipeg; it name-checks several cities along the Canadian prairie.
“One of the guys in the front office was messing around on YouTube one day, and he found the song. He emailed it around the office, and we all loved it! It was catchy and fun, and it had Saskatoon right in the title! What could be better?”
The song quickly won the favor of the fans, who took to singing along with the chorus as their heroes prepared for battle. “I’d never heard of the song before, but it’s awesome!” said 26-year-old Brayden McCord of Eagle Ridge.
Of course, this being the Shockers, they had to find a way to mess things up. At last Tuesday’s game, the audio staff forgot to cue the song up at its usual spot just before the chorus. Instead, they played it from the beginning, which features a spoken-word intro from Cummings describing Saskatoon as “a small town where nothing much ever happens.” The fans responded to this description with boos; even the jazzy harmonica riff that followed couldn’t turn them around.
The Shockers responded by pulling the song and restoring the “Thunderstruck” intro for the games that followed. A funny thing happened, though: The fans demanded the return “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon.” “It’s cool to have a song with our city in it, even if it’s kind of making fun of us,” said McCord. “Besides, it’s kind of true: not a lot happens around here.”
The Guess Who tune made its triumphant return Sunday against the Dakota Jackalopes, and the fans responded with a standing ovation. The Shockers also responded well, downing the Jackalopes 3-2.
“I guess if you’re a Shockers fan, you’re used to people insulting you,” said Doofenshmirtz. “If they’re not taking it personally, then neither am I!”
The team is hoping to get Cummings to come to Potash Arena and play the song live before the season is over.