The ‘Slap Shot’ organist finds a new career with the Kraken extension

Seattle – It all started with an unsolicited letter that got into the mailbox of the heads of presentations of the game Seattle Kraken.

The Rod Masters name did not immediately resonate with Johnny Greco and Lamont Buford, who are in charge of overseeing entertainment and gaming production for the expansion franchise, although they will soon be in touch.

“I remember (Lamont) looking at me… and he said,‘ A stranger from ‘Slap Shot’ just sent me an email, ”Greka recalls. “And I say,‘ What are you saying? What dude? ‘

This dude would be a master, and if that name still doesn’t sound right. Just know that he may be the most famous organist to ever appear on the big screen in a sports film, and now, almost half a century after he made a strong impression in “Slap Shot”, Masters became the first Kraken organist. .

His name never appeared in the titles of the iconic 1977 film starring Paul Newman. But everyone who has seen the film knows Masters in the role of organist, who was hit in the head with a headstrong puck and suddenly asked Newman’s character Reggie Dunlop never to play “Lady of Spain” again.

More than 40 years later, he is now part of the Brotherhood of NHL Organists, a 68-year-old man who lives a dream, even for someone who has worked as a professional musician across North America.

“I love playing for people, and I think they like it. It’s just the best job I’ve ever dreamed of, “said Masters. “I retired, and then I thought that only for this I would write to them by e-mail. … I think it’s a great job for any musician. “

Organ or keyboard music is synonymous with hockey. It was even part of the Beijing Olympics soundtrack during breaks in the game.

Of the 32 NHL teams, only six – in Philadelphia, Carolina, Dallas, Arizona, Vegas and Edmonton – have no organist during the games. Vegas, the last team to enter the league before Seattle, did not have an organist in the first year, but tried it in the second year. With all the other entertainment that was included in the production of the game, the sound of the organ did not match the soundtrack from Las Vegas.

“I don’t think we set up the people we had in the mix for great success, but that was also not the case,” said Greco, who along with Buford oversaw the entertainment and game presentation for the Golden Knights. before joining the Kraken. “The train was on rails for many elements of Vegas, and it was a little dull.”

In the midst of the Seattle franchise launch, there were thousands of boxes to check for officers. One who was left unmarked when the season began was an organist.

But Masters ’email offering his services was stuck as a reminder. If Kraken wanted the sound of the organ to be reflected through the Climate Pledge Arena, someone was interested.

One problem: while he starred in the film Hockey Organist, Masters has never performed in such a musical career. While filming in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the Masters regularly played at the Sheraton Hotel, where the actors and film crew stayed.

Most of his music was in the top 40s, pop, disco and country. No small vignettes to play between lines, trips and goals.

“I’m new to this. So I do all this research all of a sudden, ”Masters said. “I never knew I would ever get a job like that.”

One of the peers to whom Masters turned for advice is Jeremy Boyer, a 15-year-old St. Louis blues organist. Boyer is a star who plays primarily for the blues, but sometimes for the St. Louis Cardinals.

He has gathered a huge number of fans on social media with his skill of recording popular songs and making them rock with the help of the organ.

“I think you have to be a little bit of a fan. You have to enjoy the game, and your music also has to reflect what’s going on in the game, ”Boer said. “I feel lucky, I’m in the crowd, so I really feel the vibrations of everyone around me, and I’m trying to take that energy and direct it to my music.”

Coincidentally, the Masters’ debut with the Kraken took place on January 1 against Vancouver, whose coach Bruce Boudreau also appeared in the film as a bridge that did not make the list.

Since his debut against the Canucks, the Masters has evolved into his role, and the team is exploring ways to showcase him more. For example, the Masters are trying to lift the spirits by playing after the opponents’ goal, which is much more than the last place Kraken expected this season.

Masters is also thinking ahead, with the idea of ​​creating a real organ for next season, rather than the keyboards he used this first time.

“I think people just thought it was really good for where we were going,” Greco said. “And it was just a super unique story that we had to tell, and a character that we had to add to our show that only the Seattle Kraken has.”

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