This doesn’t include arenas I’ve already been to (Anaheim, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Philadelphia)
1. Bell Centre (Montreal)
The biggest active arena in the NHL is consistently ranked near the top in polls for best arena in the league. The crowd is always amped whether it’s preseason or game 7 of the Stanley Cup. The storied history with all the Cup banners and retired numbers (not to mention the ghosts that may or may not have made the trip across the street) just oozes hockey mecca. And I’d like to yell “Le Boo” and confuse French speaking people.
2. HP Pavilion (San Jose)
Okay, so the Shark head is kind of cheesy. But it’s in that “so cheesy it almost makes it cool” category. The fans are pretty good too, leading the pack in the “Sun Belt expansion” (even though they really aren’t warm weather). It’s one of the hardest arenas to play in, according to THN. Sharks fan @Ntrlhattrick says the arena has a pretty nice atmosphere and is located near plenty of local watering holes.
3. Xcel Energy Center (Minnesota)
How could the State of Hockey not be on this list? @WildPattyPie, a Wild fan, says that the arena is in the heart of downtown St. Paul, with plenty of bars and restaurants around. Even though the sellout streak ended early last year, the fans are still passionate about their team despite missing the playoffs since 2008. Plus, the jerseys of all of the Minnesota high school hockey teams is a nice touch (also in place in the new building in New Jersey).
4. Consol Energy Center (Pittsburgh)
HBO’s 24/7 gave a glimpse into the new building in Pittsburgh last year, and behind the scenes it looks fantastic. Penguins fan @Joeyhurricane explains the concourse is larger than the old Igloo. He also says the Mario Mosaic on the main concourse is a sight to see. There are also a number of interactive exhibits on former players that sounds interesting to hockey historians. Plus, it’d be awesome to see the house that was christened by Sergei Bobrovsky’s winning NHL debut.
5. RBC Center (Carolina)
I’m not too familiar with the arena itself (aside from the Ric Flair “WOOOOOOOOOOO”, which is pretty cool by the way). I have read that the team puts up a flag of every nation that a Carolina player is from, which is a sweet touch. But the main reason for the inclusion are the legendary tailgates. Those who know me, know I love a great tailgate. I think I’d fit in pretty well, minus wearing the red and black of the Hurricanes. I’d also like to see the #17 of Rod Brind’Amour hanging in the rafters.
If your home rink is not on my list, don’t fret. I’m making it a goal to see all 30, so I will hopefully be in your arena whether it’s posted here or not.