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Hockey Night In Canada Punjabi Edition


And I am a very happy David Greene after my Pittsburgh Penguins beat Tampa Bay last night in a tense game seven, and the Pens are now headed to NHL's Stanley Cup championship. Here was one of the goals last night.


HARNARAYAN SINGH: (Speaking Punjabi).

GREENE: OK. So that is play-by-play in Punjabi, a language spoken in Northern India and Pakistan. The announcer is a 31-year-old Canadian named Harnarayan Singh with Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi Edition. Singh, wearing a turban and long beard, has been bringing Punjabi-speaking immigrants into hockey with mesmerizing calls like when Tampa's Nikita Kucherov scored earlier in the series.


SINGH: (Speaking Punjabi).

GREENE: I asked Singh what exactly he was thinking when he broke into that melody.

SINGH: You know, his name Kucherov - it rhymes with this part of one of this famous songs, and it's a very old song. I didn't realize I would end up actually singing it. And the adrenaline rush and just the way the game was. And I shocked my analysts, but they went with it right away. So it was just fantastic.

GREENE: So is it a Punjabi song or...

SINGH: Yes. Yes, it is.

GREENE: So I wonder - I mean, there's no ice hockey, I take it, in Northern India and Pakistan. So if some of these terms like puck and - have you had to come up with new words or different ways to say those words?

SINGH: Well, yeah. We've been able to coin quite a few new phrases. I mean, for example, as penalty box, we call it the box of punishment. And we go (speaking Punjabi). And we would kind of have some fun. Slapshot - I used a hybrid where I took a slap to the face and added shot at the end so it's a chapeRR shot, and the community just loved it.

GREENE: I've read that you describe the puck sometimes as - and forgive me if I'm not pronouncing this correctly but - aloo tikki?

SINGH: Yeah, well, if you're explaining what a puck is to someone who hasn't seen one before, it does resemble the shape of a very popular Punjabi appetizer which is like a potato that's been kind of sauteed and fried, and it's the same shape as a puck. And so I'm kind of just saying, well, this is a rubber version, and it's not edible. But it is the same shape as a tikki.

GREENE: (Laughter) I love that. And did you always want to be a broadcaster?

SINGH: I did since I was very young. Since I was 4 years old, my family tells me that's what I said all the time that I wanted to do this.

GREENE: You're a natural.

SINGH: Yeah, well, they had to try to tell me to lower my volume because they were actually trying to listen to the commentary when the games were on when I was young. But I'd be running around the living room apparently and providing play-by-play commentary for my own little arena that we had in the living room with my mini hockey sticks.

GREENE: What do you think you mean to the Sikh community in Canada?

SINGH: I think what we're doing is making the community very proud. And I think it gives everybody the feeling that, you know, this is our country, too, and my great-grandmother even came to Canada in 1908. So it's been over a hundred years. And to think from, you know, the experiences that he had in a country where, you know, back then he wasn't, he didn't feel very welcome to where we are today. It's unbelievable.

GREENE: It was great talking to you and enjoy making your calls during the Stanley Cup championship. We'll be listening.

SINGH: The Stanley Cup final doesn't get any bigger and better than that.

GREENE: There you go. Thanks so much.

SINGH: Thanks for having me.

GREENE: Harnarayan Singh is getting ready for the Stanley Cup finals between Pittsburg and San Jose. He's play-by-play man for Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi Edition. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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