Stompin' Tom Connors, the legendary Canadian country-folk singer known for tunes that proudly raised a beer to hockey and other pillars of Canadian national culture, has died at age 77.
One of Connors' signature tunes, "The Hockey Song," is practically a surrogate national anthem, regularly blasted at hockey games from Vancouver to Nova Scotia. Connors, a kind of cross between Merle Haggard and Gordon Lightfoot, also is known for workingman blues songs about long-suffering, hard-drinking proletarians, like "Bud the Spud" (about a potato-hauling trucker) and "Sudbury Saturday Night" (inspired by Ontario miners).
Like Haggard, Connors knew firsthand the hard, itinerant life he sang about. Born in New Brunswick to a single mother, he later ran away from his adopted family and journeyed across the country, making mental and lyrical sketches of the ordinary people he met and the challenges they faced.
He is survived by his wife and several children and grandchildren.
As Canadians have taken to Twitter and Facebook to mourn the loss Wednesday of a national folk hero, implied hockey metaphors were rife. Prime Minister Stephen Harper tweeted, "You played the best game that could be played."