Now that 30 Games In 30 Nights is over and done, I planned to rank the attributes of each arena, but that's no easy task, so the heck with it, at least for today! Here’s a quick story from each city that I forgot to mention the first time around. This will buy me some time while I finish compiling my thoughts on each team and arena, right?
Most of the Wings had pink tape on their stick blades during warmups, and I was waiting to see if anyone was brave or manly enough to leave it on for the game. No such luck.
The Staples Center is the only arena with genuine Taito drummers instead of an organist. A super cool sound.
I went out on a limb and tried fish tacos at the concession stand. They weren’t so good, and I pretty much stuck to my hot dog diet after that game!
Every franchise should copy the Rangers players gathering at center ice after a win and saluting the crowd with a wave of their sticks. Just like shaking hands after the playoffs, it’s one of those traditions that bond the team to their fans. Of course, I’d have preferred that the Rangers would have lost the game to Tampa Bay, then I wouldn’t have seen the salute until I got to Minnesota, where the Wild do the same thing.
OK, I promise not to mention hot dogs again, but the “chein chaud” in Montreal, served fresh in butter toasted buns that were split at the top, were the best I sampled and I’d kill for one right now
On my to the game, I was pulled over by a New York State Trooper for talking on my cell phone while driving. I’m from Florida, and had no idea it was illegal. He said, “You’re lying because I saw you hang up the phone when I pulled you over”. I told him, “Of course I hung up; I was being pulled over by a cop”. I showed him my Florida license and registration, but he could care less, and I got my first ticket since 1985!
While some venues have a plaza full of activities for the kids, the Islanders’ idea of pre-game entertainment consisted of one solitary bounce house, manned by a creepy-looking guy who scared away any kid who came near it!
The Stars wore their road whites for the game, and I thought to myself, wouldn’t it look cool if they wore matching white pants as well? Think John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever” on skates! The Capitals wore white pants for a while back in the ‘70’s, and Charlie Finley’s California Golden Seals wore white skates before that. Tom Hicks, whaddya say?
Plenty of Ducks fans made the trip out to Arizona and one turned me on the best beer I tasted on the road, Oggi’s California Gold Blonde Ale. I wonder who Oggi is?
The Blue Jackets presented me with a customized jersey (#30 of course) with my name on the back. I was hoping for some skates so I could sneak out on the ice for warmups, but no such luck! More musical notes….as the Blues’ Jay McKee was sent to the penalty box for hooking, they fittingly played “He’s In the Jailhouse Now”, an old country song from the 1950’s.
I truly can’t remember anything else interesting that happened in Sunrise. If I write a book about my trip, it will be the shortest chapter! Ooh ooh Mr. Kotter, I just remembered something. In the bowels of the building, I got to see what the NHL officials do at the game.
As the Sens lined up for the national anthem, six little skaters joined them on the ice and one stood next to each player, which was a touching image. Then they skated off and the fans started booing Mats Sundin loudly. Game on!
I know that The Igloo is a throwback building with old school fans, but I was still surprised when the entire building started doing the wave! I must confess that after a couple of laps, I actually joined in too! Is it true that Seattle Seahawks fans invented the wave back in the old Kingdome?
A photographer from The Hockey News brought me out onto the ice before warmups to take my picture, and I had to wear those goofy black slip-on straps under my shoes, so that I wouldn’t fall on my butt and sue the crap out of the Bruins.
Poor Jay McKee. This time, when the St. Louis defenseman was sent to the penalty box to feel shame, Elton’s John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”, blasted over the sound system. A nice subtle touch from the Blackhawks.
The Verizon Center is surrounded by dozens of trendy bars and restaurants, but I never got to try them out because I was so late arriving. Plus the parking garage closed right after the game, so our postgame drink to celebrate the Lightning’s lone victory was not in some funky downtown dive, but at the bland Ruby Tuesday’s next to our hotel
Erin from the Avalanche was so nice to me and invited me to ride on the Zamboni, but I had to say no. To me, Zamboni rides are for little kids and pretty girls. I couldn’t imagine that the sight of a 190 lb middle-aged guy strapped to the side of a giant ice-making machine would be appealing to the crowd! Erin, I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings, but you did have a sad look on your face!
When I saw San Jose play in Detroit on the first night of my trip, Kyle McLaren was wearing a neon yellow Day-Glo visor, and didn’t play very well, but tonight he was wearing a regular clear visor and played much better. Note to hockey parents, keep those yellow highlighter pens out of your kids’ reach, they don’t help!
Are they that short of cash in Calgary that they have to show regular TV commercials on the Jumbotron? Guess they’re saving up for Dion Phaneuf‘s next contract. Man, he’s a solid hockey player.
In my blog, I forgot to thank Wes, the Canucks fan who invited me to the game with him. We had fun at GM Place, and even more afterwards at the bar. Somehow, I got on the SkyTrain, found the right bus and made it safely back to the Delta Airport hotel with the fluffy towels.
For the dozens of you who asked, yes I really did get sick on the plane after the game. I felt so bad for the poor lady next to me, who was so traumatized she may never fly again!
I didn’t even wear my jersey to the game, as I felt so tired and miserable that I didn’t want anyone to recognize me. The Blues souvenir store was the best (and most crowded) I encountered, but I forgot my money and credit cards in the hotel room, so I couldn’t even buy anything.
Before my trip, I probably hated the Flyers more than any other NHL team, but their staff and players were so nice to me that now I only hate them just a little bit! Look for a feature about my Philly visit on “Inside The NHL”, which will air on HD Net and The NHL Network in December. I’ll post the exact dates when I find them out.
Right before the faceoff, a speedy little kid skated out with flag in hand, circled the ice, executed a fancy hockey stop spraying snow everywhere and planted the flag pole right into the ice on the red line. Very cool move, now if I could only remember what flag he was carrying?
His mother named him Vaclav Prospal, but props to the Atlanta PA Announcer for calling him Vinny Prospal, just like we do in Tampa, after he assisted on Vinny Lecavalier’s goal.
If you’ve been to an NHL game lately, you’ve seen the auctions of autographed memorabilia that most teams hold on the concourse to support their charitable foundation or other deserving cause. Most items sell for $300 and up and probably generate $3,000-$5,000 nightly. But think carefully before you bid in Toronto, as there is no charity involved! It looks like the money just goes straight in the team’s pockets to help pay Pavel Kubina’s $5,000,000 annual salary.
I didn’t see the “Beef On Weck” sign until I’d stuffed myself with a foot long dog, and still had to leave room for some wings at the Anchor Bar , so I never did find out what “Beef On Weck” is. Actually, I get the Beef part, but what’s the Weck? It sure looked good! I have no idea how, but I managed to lose five pounds on this trip, despite my diet. Perhaps it was the free fruit for breakfast at the Hampton Inn.
I never did get to eat any turkey on Thanksgiving Day in Nashville, although I did get to watch 43 year-old Dominik Hasek flap around like a bird trying to avoid the carving knife!
What can I say about Carolina that hasn’t been said already? How about, “I really like their new red uniforms with the extra white pinstripe under the nameplate.” That’ll do.
I must thank Bill Wickett and the rest of the Lightning PR staff, who appreciated every aspect of my 30 Games In 30 Nights journey, and provided me with quality assistance, solid advice, good contacts and great company during my time on the road.
I’ll rack my brain and come up with some bests and worsts of my trip over the next few days, so hang in there!