Former Oilers anthem singer Paul Lorieau dies at 71

Paul Lorieau, the former anthem singer for the Edmonton Oilers, died on Tuesday at the Norwood Centre Hospice in Edmonton
Paul Lorieau retired as the Oilers' anthem singer in 2011. (Courtesy of Amadeus Peruch)

Paul Lorieau, the former anthem singer for the Edmonton Oilers, died on Tuesday.

Lorieau, 71, passed away at the Norwood Centre Hospice surrounded by his daughters, grandchildren and extended family members.

Camille Lorieau said her father had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer in October. His esophagus was removed after surgery in December but by April, the cancer had metastasized to his liver.

Lorieau said her father was passionate about singing.

"He loved it. He absolutely loved singing ... and he was very loyal to the anthem and just sang his heart out," she said. .

Lorieau sang at Oilers games for 30 years until his retirement in April 2011. Camille Lorieau said the Oilers asked him to come back earlier this year to sing at the first game after the lockout ended.

"My dad was still in the hospital. He wanted so badly to sing so he actually had told the Oilers, 'yes I can do it," she said.

"He wanted to do it for the fans because he knew how much the fans would love it ... so it was definitely a hard time for him when he had to call back and tell them he wouldn't be able to sing for the game opener."

Oilers President Patrick Laforge said that Lorieau would be "respected and remembered for being a key player in the history of the Edmonton Oilers."

"His passion and excitement became a staple at every Oilers home game for more than 30 years," he said in a news release.

During the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs, Lorieau became known for holding out the microphone for fans to sing along to the anthem, something he first did during Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

"I was so proud of my dad, just that he did that and it was just amazing to see how we responded to take over singing the anthem on his behalf," Camille Lorieau said about the first time it happened.

"And he loved it. I remember he came home that night and talked about the energy that he had. He was just ecstatic. He was so happy." 

The Oilers made it the finals that year, only to lose in Game 7 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Lorieau leaves behind four daughters and five grandchildren. His funeral will be held Monday at St. Joseph's Basilica