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Longtime Boston Bruins anthem singer Rancourt to retire

BOSTON (AP) Rene Rancourt, the tuxedoed troubadour who has sung the national anthem before Boston Bruins games for more than 40 years, announced on Wednesday that he will retire at the end of the season.

The 78-year-old trained opera singer began singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" at Red Sox games and took over the U.S. and Canadian anthems at Bruins games during the 1975-76 season. He ends his performance with a signature fist pump he modeled after Bruins forward Randy Burridge.

Rancourt got a big hand when he came onto the ice to perform the both anthems.

"It's wonderful, the fan reaction," he said in a press conference during the first intermission. "Every time I sing the anthem, I imagine it's for the last time."

Rancourt performed the anthem on April 17, 2013, for the first sporting event in the city after the Boston Marathon bombing. He sang the first few words and then allowed the crowd to take over.

"Nothing comes close to that," he said. "I was petrified to get out there. I had planned to stop singing in the middle of it. I was very afraid to do that. The reaction was something."

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Updated January 17, 2018

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