9 Greatest ‘Barns’ To Watch An NHL Playoff Game
The season is upon us. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are back. But not all playoff environments are created equal. Their exists an upper echelon that combines the proper elements of technology, history, passionate fans, and pure beauty to create an environment that surpasses most every other hockey venue. So if you are lucky enough to have a choice as to where to see a playoff game, may we suggest these venues top your list?
9. Boston – TD Garden
The Garden (or whatever it’s being called this week), has had 33 names since its inception in 1995. Clearly, whatever edifice took the place of the Boston Garden would have some crazy-big shoes to fill. After the initial pissing and moaning by die-hards was done, the city of Boston was left with a pretty decent arena that has seen the Bruins rise from mediocrity in later years.
8. Philadelphia – Wells Fargo Center (formerly Wachovia Center)
The Broad Street Bullies may now reside in South Philly, but that doesn’t make them any less fierce. Never mind the people on the ice, however. The people in the stands have historically made Philly one of the most antagonistic cities for visiting teams. The only silver lining here is that a plexiglass separates the players and the projectiles of whatever fans feel like hurling that day.
7. New York – Madison Square Garden
You could have the cast of The Mighty Ducks 2 come into this house to play a charity game and it would remain one of the most compelling venues in the history of sport. Having opened for business in 1968, this urban dweller is no spring chicken. Situated on top of Penn Station, MSG doesn’t just bring in a lineage of hockey champions, but those of basketball and musical performers as well. Though it might be sunken into the ground, this arena rises about as high up the ladder as you can get.
6. Pittsburgh – Consol Energy Center
Sydney Crosby is but one reason the Penguins’ home has restored relevance to the club since the days of Mario Lemiuex. Having been opened for only nine months, this arena may cause traditionalists to scoff, but the franchise must be commended on its ability to construct a venue that matches a team’s reputation.
5. Vancouver – Rogers Arena
This arena is getting up their in years, having opened its doors in 1995, but it still ranks among the most intimidating venues in which to see a game. The LED scoreboards were the largest in the league until those hotshots from Montreal had to step up and surpass Vancouver. Show-offs. The sound comes courtesy of some L-Acoustics speakers that represent the largest such installation in North America. There are some talks to create an adjacent 22-story office building to the arena as well. That addition probably wouldn’t do too much for the ambiance, but who knows? It could at least look pretty.
4. Chicago – United Center
The House That Jordan Built has a handsome little hockey legacy to it as well. Built in 1994, the United Center just underwent a huge renovation that ensures it won’t be left in the dust like so many other venues its age. The United Center’s acoustics were engineered to take into account “The Roar” a sort of white noise that will hypnotize the opposing team and ultimately make their heads explode. Ok. That’s not true at all. But “The Roar” is a very real thing nonetheless.
3. Detroit – Joe Louis Arena
In addition to being one of the oldest arenas in the NHL (born 1979), it is also one of only a handful without being burdened with a corporate sponsorship. The Red Wings have every reason to enjoy Hockeytown, as they have made 6 Stanley Cup Finals appearances since moving there, with 4 Cup victories resulting, with 2 of those actually being one at home. Plus, any arena with something called The Gordie Howe Entrance is bound to give its team an advantage.
2. Toronto – Air Canada Centre
It should be no surprise that not only are the top two arenas Canadian, but are among the first teams ever in the NHL. With Toronto’s sheer size and the fans’ passion for hockey, it’s small wonder that the Hangar is among the busiest arenas in all the world. Further, while many die-hards wouldn’t rank conveniences and amenities among the biggest considerations, the Hangar has them in spades, including 13,000 parking spaces adjacent to the property. Most arenas this size would have about 8,000.
1. Montreal – The Bell Centre
Sadly for the geniuses behind the Bell Centre, it is well-known that the mark on The Bell Centre’s reputation comes from something completely beyond the developer’s control – the fact that it replaced the much beloved Forum. This arena kills it in most every way, setting official records in attendance, and unofficial records in smart, loud, and passionate fans.