Predators fans defend jilted anthem singer vs. Carrie Underwood, country stars

Nashville Predators anthem singer Dennis K. Morgan stepped into the spotlight on Tuesday for his salty reaction to the country stars that had taken his gig during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As we wrote, Morgan felt betrayed by the team after performing national anthems at roughly 185 game since 2000, only to see the Predators invite the likes of Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan and Lady Antebellum to perform them during the playoffs.

“They came to me and said the captain’s wife asked to sing the anthem that night,” Morgan said of Carrie Underwood, the wife of center Mike Fisher, who has sold over 65 million albums worldwide. “It was presented to me as a one night only kind of thing and I agreed to it. Then they continued to bring in these other singers and touted them as ‘A-listers,’ which kind of hurt me.”

Morgan, 52, wears a personalized jersey with a music note on the back of it.

“I don’t blame Carrie Underwood or Luke Bryan or any of the other acts who have performed,” Morgan told The Tennessean. “I’ve been as good-natured as I can be. With my closest friends, I’ve certainly shared my disappointment. But most of the time I’ll toe the company line and say, ‘Why am I not singing? Because I don’t have seven Grammys, I’m not married to the captain, she’s a whole lot prettier than me,’ that kind of thing and try to leave it at that.”

After he claimed a number of Predators fans had expressed their grief over his playoff absence, we called Morgan “delusional” and asked if any Predators fans genuinely felt legitimately disappointed that Carrie Underwood was singing the anthem rather than Dennis K. Morgan.

Here are the eight supportive responses we’ve received in roughly eight hours. (In the interest of equal time, we wont run the other ones.)

From Ivan Ivanovich Tarkov:

Please be informed that I am legitimately disappointed that Carrie Underwood sang the national anthem instead of Dennis K. Morgan. This is not a joke, and disappointed is rather a tepid word, falling far short of conveying the outrage I feel.

From Terry Little:

In response to your article, I’d like to say as a member of the Loyal Legion I DO want to hear Dennis K Morgan sing the anthem.  And I know I’m not alone.  I have heard that comment multiple times from other fans in the arena.

I understand the “star power” factor for the playoffs, and I’m in favor of bringing in celebrities for *some* of the playoff games, but Dennis should still sing at least once every round.  For those of us who are at every home game, Dennis is as much a part of Smashville as the 7th Man.  He sings the anthem flawlessly all during the regular season…he deserves to be a part of the team’s playoff run.

From M. MaGuirk:

I am one of many “legitimately disappointed” Predator Fans that would much rather hear Mr. Morgan than Carrie. Hockey in Nashville has always been different than most other franchise towns. We love our Predators just as much as Bostonians love the Bruins. 

The sport of hockey is steeped in superstitious players and fans … tapping the goalies head, dressing in a specific order, wearing the right color nail polish, AND hearing the right guy sing the national anthem.  Reason why Mr. Morgan is asked so frequently to sing is because the players (and fans) want him.

Mr. Morgan did not seek an interview with reporters because his feelings were hurt, the Tennessean went to him because a large fan-base was dissatisfied with who was chosen to sing in the playoffs.  

The Tennessean reached out to him – not a disgruntled singer seeking for retribution. Mr. Morgan spoke truthfully and honestly about his feelings. Who wouldn’t be disappointed to be overlooked after many years of supporting the team?  

Many of us are disappointed that you have painted him in such an ill light, as if he is acting like a spoiled child. Sorry you felt the need to rip into this nice man who has a great voice, so good many of us would rather hear over our local Country stars who are just now giving their time to recognize the team … how convenient for their careers.

From Steven Smith:

I for one am not necessarily disappointed with the country stars singing the anthem during the playoffs, but I do think that Mr. Morgan should get his chance to sing. He sings during the bad times and he should get to sing during the good. I could see how he would be miffed by the whole thing and feel for him.

From Chris J:

As a member of the Loyal Legion (season ticketholders) for the past 12 years, I have witnessed many different singers sing the anthem at our home games.  The past 2 years the majority if not all of these have been sung by Dennis K Morgan. I think he provides straightforward consistent rendition of the anthem, that for me and several others in my area have become a part of the pregame experience.   He should get at least one game a series for his loyalty to the team during the regular season.  Having Vince Gill (Loyal Legion member) or Carrie Underwood who have ties to the team sing a game is understandable.  Having the others, who are absent during the regular season and jumping on the bandwagon, is not.

BTW your writeup for this situation is what is wrong in the country today.  Way too much snarkiness, and the inability or unwillingness to look at the situation from the the other person’s point of view.

From ‘The N’:

I pen to you today in loyalty to the honorable Dennis K(.) “The Captain” Morgan. We the people have been shunned by this classless organization of Captain Morgan’s exquisite voice that penetrates our souls with each brilliantly performed note. These here, “country” stars no nothing of the preparation and grace of performing on such a grand stage. Only the K(.) should be allowed to use his beautiful voice to serenade the fine citizens of Smashville. Good day sir, The N(.)

From Dan:

Howdy! Ok, defender may be a bit too strong of a word. But, my buddies and I (Nashville residents) have been debating this guy’s butt-hurt-ness all morning. Our employers must love us.

I think he is, for sure, going to regret all of this. There’s no way to spin it where he comes out looking like a mature adult who can handle disappointment.

However…. would it have killed the Preds to throw him a bone and let him know, privately, if we ever make it to the Cup we’ll let you sing before a game. Does he ‘deserve’ it…. no (in the sense that no one deserves anything)… but, based on how he is reacting now, I think this is something that is way more important to him than anyone could have ever realized.

IDK… I sort of backed into a contrarian take on this one and started to empathize with him (a small, tiny amount). I figure he probably, in the 17 years he’s been doing this, been talking about it to anyone/everyone who is within ear shot. Further, he’s probably thought– this would be a great story to tell my grandkids that I was the voice of the Preds (is that a thing?) and I sang in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup. I was with these guys from the beginning and was a part of something! Different strokes for different folks, I guess. There’s probably a bunch of ushers and other “mainstays” at Bridgestone that would be upset if, come the ‘big time’, they were ‘upstaged.’ “Sorry, Lenny, who has been checking ticket and friendly with the season ticket holders of Section 100 for the last 17 years will be replaced by Marcus Mariota for this series.” Extreme example, obviously.

So, all of this is more or less a half baked defense that falls more under the category of: I feel bad for the dude. He obviously really, really, really cares about this. Is there a way we can just make everyone happy? Am I getting old too? What have I done to tell my future generations? Will everyone forget about me? OH MY GOD.

Your specific question— would I rather see Dennis or Carrie sing the national anthem? The answer is undoubtedly Carrie (I would probably go right to a recruiting center and enlist for the Army if I heard her). They’ll sell out regardless. Get Carrie to do a couple songs between periods to keep me #engaged.

Finally — why have a consistent national anthem singer anyway? This is Nashville. There would be a line out the door of people looking to sing. That would’ve solved this problem 17 years ago.

­

From Nate Donchez:

I read your article on Yahoo and did want to write in. I’m a huge Predators fan living in Nashville for over 10 years and go to a ton of games. I am disappointed Dennis K Morgan is not singing the anthem at these home games.

1 – He is the anthem singer for the Predators and has been for a while. He’s amazingly talented and I think it’s important that a team identifies with a staple and he is one. We are playing the Ducks, yet they aren’t rushing in every southern CA pop singer to do the anthem. They have a woman who does them all, she is talented and a part of their community as Dennis K  Morgan is for us. This also doesn’t happen at Rangers/Islanders/Kings games either to my knowledge. 

2 – Stylistically, Dennis K Morgan sings the anthem as it should be sung. I was at the Luke Bryan game, he’s good and all but he’s performing it as a country song more than a respectful singing like Mr. Morgan does.

3 – There are a ton of opportunities to play during the game. The stage in the arena if you’ve been has been loaded with stars singing along with the house band. The house band isn’t pushed out, they are playing with other stars. Why not feature them between periods if they want to be there. Plus there are pregame events and they can put on a concert outside as pregame. 

4 – We have a staple organist who is also super awesome but no one is out there telling Krazy Kyle to stand down and let a star play keyboards or something during the game so why do it to the anthem singer. Granted an arena organist is a lot difficult than being an anthem singer but still. 

In short yes country music is our identity here, but within the traditions of the game and the arena, I think the continuity is important. Really, there are some stars that come out to the games but mostly outside of Vince Gill who’s at like every game it’s mostly bandwagoners. They do help pump up the team maybe, and the crowd, and looks good on national TV, but it hurts to see the guy who is our anthem singer get pushed aside. What if you wrote columns on hockey all year, then during the Stanley Cup your columns got replaced by Wayne Gretzky or something?

***

Hmmm … that’s a tough one. I guess it would come down to whether or not my agreement with my employer “allowed for nationally and internationally renowned [writers] to [write] when available to further enhance the game experience,” which is actually what the Predators’ arrangement with Dennis K. Morgan.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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