'Make it Seven' Campaign Has U of G Tie

June 25, 2009 - News Release

There's a University of Guelph connection to Jim Balsillie's efforts to bring a seventh national hockey league team to Canada.

The GMOs, a band featuring Owen Roberts of the Office of Research, Prof. Doug Larson of the Department of Integrative Biology, U of G graduates Len Kahn and Rob McLean and longtime University supporter Rob Hannam, penned a song that captured Balsillie’s attention.

Balsillie, co-CEO of Research in Motion, is trying to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move the NHL franchise to Hamilton. He has launched a national “Make it Seven” campaign to support his initiative.

The GMOs, which stands for Genetically Modified Orchestra, wrote and recorded a song, Make It Seven, about Balsillie’s ongoing efforts. They posted a video of the song on You Tube, where it’s closing in on 12,000 hits.

The song and video caught Balsillie’s eye and are now part of his official campaign, appearing on the “Make It Seven” website.

“I'm proud that our band could contribute to something as 'Canadian' and as fun as helping our neighbours in Hamilton try to get a hockey team,” said Roberts, who organized the band in 2000.

“In the lifetime of a band, opportunities at this level are extremely rare, especially for a just-for-fun band like us.”

The song is receiving a lot of attention. Last week, the GMOs performed it a rally in Hamilton that drew more than 5,000 people in support of Balsillie’s campaign.

During the rally, band members were interviewed by numerous television media outlets, including CBC, CTV, Citytv CH-CH and TSN, about the song's role in fanning the flames of support for Balsillie's initiative.

Band members have discussed the importance of the seventh team to the infrastructure of southern Ontario and the connections between scholarship and athletic development, Larson said.

“Outside of the lecture hall and outside of normal outreach, our university has pulled it off again in ways that were neither planned nor imagined,” he said.

The song features Larson, an ecologist and Canada's pre-eminent authority on ancient vegetation, on slide guitar; Roberts, who specializes in agriculture communications, on lead guitar; McLean, a hospitality and tourism management graduate, on bass and vocals; Kahn, an Ontario Agricultural College grad, on drums; and Hannam, owner of Synthesis Agri-Food Consulting, on keyboards. Hannam’s daughter, Rebecca, is a second-year U of G student.

“I hope Hamilton succeeds,” Roberts said. “And I hope we get to accept the organizers' offer to join them on opening night and play this song again.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, Ext. 53338 or lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982 or bagunn@uoguelph.ca.

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