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Top 10 NHL road stops

Posted Aug 11, 2008 by Erik Erlendsson

Updated Aug 11, 2008 at 11:56 AM

Happy Monday to everybody. I’m deeply entrenched into watching the Olympics on television, and unlike my colleague Bill Ward I don’t quite feel like I’m in Beijing. Maybe the four boys running around (it will be five tonight as we add a sleep over to the mix) offering up distractions to the telecast or maybe it’s the clean (relatively speaking) air outside my house. Nonetheless, I’m enjoying the coverage and with DirectTV, I love the one-stop shopping on channels 750-754 in addition to normal NBC programming on Channel 8. And how about Jason Lezak swimming the anchor leg of the 4x100m freestyle relay team for the U.S. to keep Michael Phelps’ dream of eight gold medals alive!!!!! What a race that was.

And as I type this, my nine-year old son Kevin is running an Olympic volleyball tournament representing the USA, 6-year-old son Kelsey first saying Switzerland then switching his allegiance to Canada. The winner is supposed to face oldest brother Kyle, who is representing the host country, China. Good stuff LOL

As promised, I’m going to give you guys a Top 10 list today, and though the response wasn’t as overwhelming as I would have hoped with about 30 responses (I know it’s slow and all and everyone’s focus is on the Olympics and Bucs, but I was hoping for about 348 responses that would have required all weekend to sift through!!!). There were some good idea, with top 10 Lightning enforces being the most popular, so I’ll have to get that one put together for you guys who asked, which I will do maybe next week (you’ll have to check back for when!!!!)

Here is my top 10 cities on the NHL circuit. The criteria doesn’t have anything to do with hockey, it’s more about the city and what it has to offer, whether its nightlife, scenery or otherwise. At the end, I’ll add a group of places I’m not so crazy about:

10 Toronto - The hockey mecca of the world (self-proclaimed) offers some great sightseeing options, with the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre (formally SkyDome) when the Blue Jays are in town. But the highlight has to be the Hockey Hall of Fame, which is a must-see for any hockey fan. I’m a big fan of the international jerseys, especially the Icelandic national team sweater, and the tremendous displays of history. I don’t get to the Hall every time I’m in Toronto, but I have been there probably three or four times. My only wish is the gift shop had a few better options.

9 Chicago - When you stay downtown, the nightlife just calls you out of your hotel room. I’ve only been here a couple of times (including my first ever road trip on the beat) but the Deep dish pizza is enough to bring you down to the street level for dinner time. Last year we were out in a suburb, so the experience wasn’t quite as entertaining.

8 Philadelphia - Pat’s and Geno’s. That’s enough. But there’s also Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Throw in the Franklin Museum and some historic bars and restaurants - and Chief’s favorite spot, Ralph’s Italian - and Philly is a nice little road trip.

7 Washington - I love visiting the D.C. area. The subway system is tremendous and very clean. As a side note, I once was stopped on the subway carrying a muffin and cup of coffee, a 10-process in which I was actually written up for a warning. Guess that’s why it’s so clean!!!! And all the history and sites are just a highlight of the NHL circuit for me. I get a bit disappointed when Tampa has to play there in the second half of back-to-backs, or like last year, the day after Christmas. I’ve been to the National Archives twice in the past year and the Museum of Natural History and saw the Hope Diamond. I can’t wait for this year to have the chance to go to the Museum of American History, which has been closed for two years.

6 Calgary - You have to love those warm winter nights when the Chinook winds blow through town. But even when it’s cold, Calgary has enough to keep you warm. From Cowboys (I’ve never been, but heard it’s better than any western club in Texas) to the Red Mile, this stop is among the highlights. Two years ago, it was a near all-nighter at the casino (for some, it was) where I only slipped some loonies and twonies into the slot machines. And if you ever get to Calgary, be sure to take the two-hour trip north to Lake Louise, which is above Banff. It’s worth the trip.

5 Boston - This is close to my hometown, so there are some personal reasons to be in Boston, but as a fan of history, you can’t help but get caught up in catching up with it all. The Freedom Trail, Paul Revere’s House, the Old North Church, Faneuil Hall, the Green Dragon Tavern, Old Ironside . . . the list goes on and on. Toss in a dinner or two at the North End or a trip to the Boston Beer Works for a pint of the Bunker Hill Bluebeery Ale (a must have) and Beantown is a great stop.

4 Nashville - An underrated stop. I’m not a big fan of country music, but there are still plenty of great bars in the downtown area. And though it could be a serious firetrap, Tootsie’s is a must see. The music is great and the atmosphere can’t be beat. The Bar-B-Q joints need to be experienced and you can smell the aroma in the daytime from a block away. We’ve tried to lobby to get Nashville into the Eastern Conference, but that hasn’t worked . . . yet.

3 Vancouver - The sites of the mountains are among the best in the world, and that alone makes it a must-see. The views are just out of this world, the Asian architecture is a spectacle. Take a walk through Stanley Park if you ever make the trip. It’s easy to get lost there, so be sure to bring some bread crumbs to help you find your way back. Some great food spots, especially for Chinese or Japanese food. And the fact that the Pacific Northwest keeps the temperatures within reason, then there’s never a bad time to be there.

2 Montreal - I’m already excited thinking about the possibility of being in attendance at the All-Star game in January followed by the draft in June (assuming, of course, the newspaper is still in existence nine months from now). My favorite bar on the NHL stop resides in Montreal, an Irish bar (go figure!!!) called McLean’s with a good atmosphere, sports on TV and a good mix of music in the background. And a stop at Gibby’s restaurant in Old Montreal is a must at least once per season. The steaks are among the best I’ve ever had. Mix in the great nightlife the city has to offer and it’s the best city to visit in the league, just behind . . .

1 New York - I’ve documented this before, but being from Boston I have a natural hatred for all New York sports teams, a passion that still lives strongly inside my sports soul. When it comes to visiting the city, however, I just love it. You name it and New York has it going on. And you never have to travel far from where you are to find anything you want. Great food, great bars (Scruffy Duffy, Slaughtered Lamb, Pig n’ Whistle), great sights and it’s all done on a grand scale. From the World of Disney store, to the giant shrimp outside the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Times Square to the three-story M&M’s World, you would have to search hard not to find something to your liking. I’ve had dinner and dessert in Little Italy, dinner in Chinatown and 3 a.m. fourth meal at the 24 hour McDonald’s next to the hotel. I’ve never had a bad time in the city that never sleeps.

Among the stops I’m not crazy about, in no particular order -
Sunrise, especially the building there, nothing good about it
Detroit, just not crazy about it
Raleigh, no atmosphere in the area the team stays in, nothing around the rink.
Edmonton - Chris Pronger’s wife had it right
Ottawa - the downtown area is nice, but since the rink is 30 minutes (in good traffic) outside of downtown, I’m just not crazy about going.
New Jersey - nice new rink, but it’s in New Jersey.

I’ll give you another rundown this week of the top 10 arenas in the league. A bit harder to figure out since they all look somewhat the same from inside, but I’ll try to break it down.

Reader Comments

Por (Big Bill) on August 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Thanks EE for the tt list of citys.Being from chicago it brought back memories.My dad took me to my first Blackhhawk game in 1946.i’ve been hooked ever since.I hope you had a chance to see a game in the old Chicago Stadium.The loudest arena. All veteran Hockey players will agree, just ask Phil Esposito.But now the Lightning are my team. Thanks,BB

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Por (Big Bill) on August 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Should have added this to my first comment.the worst Blackhawk trade ever was Phil Esposito to Boston for Pit Martin.
Thanks again. BB

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Por (Just An Olie Fan) on August 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Erik Erlendsson if you don’t mine me asking where is your hometown? Hands down Bluebeery is the best brew at Beer Works…

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Por (JayJay) on August 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Hey Big Bill, Pit Martin was a class act who got Chicago to two Stanley Cup Finals, one of which they would have won but not for a blown save by Espo’s brother, TonyO.
Phil got Boston to three SC Finals, albeit with a better cast around him.
The thing that really made that trade was Fred Stanfield bringing out the best in Johnny Bucyk.

Also, how could a guy from Boston leave the Union Oyster House, down the street from the GAHDEN, off his list? I usually sit in Daniel Webster’s old chair for a dozen raw.

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Por (Kevin Savage) on August 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

How about you visit Edmonton before slagging us. You want a hockey atomsphere and great fans, then you should step into Rexall Place.

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Por (Darrell Mast) on August 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

So what are the worst cities?

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Por (Nancy Pacini) on August 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Kevin, Erik has been to Edmonton, and his comments were about the city itself, not the arena.  Check back for his list of favorite arenas, I would be surprised if Rexall place wasn’t high on the list

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Por (andy morgan) on August 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Im a fan of ‘toonie’ rather than ‘twonie’ grin

As for cowboys. ughhhh. The irish scene in montreal is awesome though!

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Por (Patrick) on August 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Can’t wait to read your Top 10 Bolts enforcers list. I’m sure there’s quite a few people on who’re looking forward to seeing it as well.

Btw, Don’t be afraid to link up some youtube clips to your blog post, just to give some readers a better idea of who you’re ranking. No doubt that would add a lot to the article!


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Por (Big Bill) on August 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Sorry JayJay
Phil Esposito,Nhl hall of fame,twice mvp,5 time scoring champ,10 time all star,6 time first team,717 goals,873 assits,total pts. 1590.
Pit martin,324goals,485 asst.Total809 pt
Case closed

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Por (tony randell) on August 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

edmonton is too cold, has nothing going on, and has no celebrities

but we do have 5 stanley cups and a billionaire owner promising more

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Por (John) on August 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Yeah, I hate to tell you, but you’re still not going to get that American History Museum visit in this year. They’re still in hard hats over there.

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Por (Jeff) on August 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Best arenas???? I’ll give the SPTF kudos…never had bad sight lines there, even in the 300 section. The best new arena is by far THE ROCK in New Jersey..great vibe inside the arena, but like Eric said…it’s in New Jersey. Staples Center in LA is really good too. Always wanted to go to the Saddledome though….

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Por (Ken Knaebel) on August 12, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I like the list. I’d agree about Vancouver. Granville Island was an interesting part to visit. The farmer’s market, the brewery and dinner at the Sandbar. Whistler is only a couple hours away and a great place to visit, even if you don’t ski.

The smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz’s Deli in Montreal was worth the detour.

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Por (Hockeyman Utah) on August 12, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Have you actually BEEN to Calgary?  Or is your directional sense just a reflection or your criteria?  2 hours north is Red Deer (and not even that long a drive).  Lake Louise is WEST of Calgary not even remotely North.

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Por (Callie) on August 12, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Mr. Savage from Edmonton & rude person from Utah, do you REALLY think our beat writer hasn’t actually been to Edmonton and Calgary?  “Travel with the team” is part of his job description, duh.

Top 10 enforcers?  I can hardly wait…

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Por (Kash) on August 12, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Your a ##### ##### article, and incorrect facts.

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Por (Randall Buschmann) on August 12, 2008 (Suggest removal)

You people getting upset or offended about Erik’s comments on his personal favorite/least favorite city stops is ridiculous! the man is entitled to his opinion! and its a much more educated opinion than most peoples since hes actually been to all of these places many times. Thanks for the insight Erik, I enjoyed reading it! Can’t wait for more stuff like this! smile

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Por (Michael J. Kostka) on August 12, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Erik,  come on now.. Detroit is as everybody knows is Hockey Town.  That says it all.  Life is good when your walking to a Wings game downtown in the winter time. Next time you go head up Woodward ave. and get some grub at a coney island around midnight. Good hockey in a hardcore city.

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Por (vickie) on August 13, 2008 (Suggest removal)

ok someone is slackin. Come on Erik, Please help us make this summer go by faster because we are all bored of our jobs and life.

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Por (Adam T) on August 13, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Your credibility that Calgary is actually a nice city goes down the tube when you say Lake Louise is North of the city.
I’ve lived in Edmonton and Calgary (from Vancouver) and believe me, if I could have the same job in Edmonton, I’d be there.

(Should also add that Cowboys was bulldozed last year, some icon of Calgary huh? They have renamed another bar Cowboys though…)

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Por (Jarrett B) on August 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

For the geographically challenged:

Clearly N. of Calgary

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Por (TampaFan) on August 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Wow pretty harsh words about New Jersey!  There are lots of nice places in Jersey.  Next time you are at the new arena go down to the Portuguese section of Newark and get some food.  It is awesome.  You can’t beat it.  Try the Garlic Chicken.  Not to mention Jersey has the best pizza and calzones around.  The bagels are better than anywhere too!

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Por (NHL Observer) on August 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Don’t give up on Ottawa.  You’ve hit it right on the head, the downtown area is terrific for eateries, shopping and pubs/clubs and it’s a great walking city.  The Parliment Buildings, Supreme Court and National Achives are lined up in a row, facing the Canadian Museum of Civilization on the Gatineau side of the Ottawa River.  In the dead of winter, you can skate on the Rideau Canal, which is the world’s longest skating rink, which the Capital Region park service maintains.

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Por (Victoria) on August 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

hey Tampafan, it’s called Ferry St. I am from a city called Elizabeth outside of Newark. Also go shopping and pay no tax on clothes, food and shoes and %3 on other stuff on Broad Street which looks likes a mini manhattan street. But the truth of the fact is, you don’t want to be out there after dark. that’s when all the crazies come out. lol.

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