hartford-whalers

The man who wrote one of hockey’s most recognizable and most beloved team anthems has died at the age of 94.

Jacques Ysaye, who composed “Brass Bonanza,” a song that became synonymous with the Hartford Whalers, died last week in Belgium, according to his Facebook page.

Ysaye, who was also known under the pseudonym Jack Say, wrote the tune in the mid-1970s, and it was Whalers’ theme song from 1977 until Brian Burke discontinued its use upon taking over as the club’s general manager in 1992.

When Burke left to take a job with the NHL several years later, the team re-adopted the song and kept it until moving to North Carolina to become the Hurricanes in 1997.

“His motto was no more Mr. Nice Guy,” former Whalers assistant GM Pierre McGuire told NHL.com’s Evan Weiner in 2008 when asked about Burke’s decision. “He thought the Brass Bonanza was too nice, so he got rid of it. For a lot of players, coaches, and fans, it was (the Whalers’ signature song). Brian wanted to do it his own way. Eventually, after Brian left and went to the league, the song came back.”

It was playing as the Whalers skated off the ice for the final time on April 13, 1997, and is still frequently played at other sports venues to this day.

Several NHL organists, including Kyle Hankins of the Nashville Predators and Dieter Ruehle of the Los Angeles Kings, play it during games, and it has previously been used by the AHL’s Connecticut Whale (now the Hartford Wolf Pack) and the University of Connecticut.

Ysaye titled the song, “Evening Beat” when he originally composed it.

For the full story of how it became the Whalers’ anthem, read this 2010 piece by the Hartford Courant’s Jeff Jacobs.

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