Detroit, MI: Joe Louis Arena, March 27 2014 (5 of 30)

Even before I cooked up this crazy plan to visit every arena in the NHL, I’ve dreamed of attending a game in Detroit. I have nothing but admiration for the Red Wings organisation, who for the last 25 years have build a winning culture and established the closest thing to a dynasty we’ve had since the 80’s Oilers. And with all the new buildings popping up across the league, the Joe Louis Arena is one of the last old school arenas left (along with Madison Square Garden in New-York, Nassau Coliseum in Long Island and Rexall Place in Edmonton)

We bought our tickets way back in August, when they went on sale, expecting a late season game to have some importance. And it did. The Wings are fighting for a playoff spot, being in a 4 way tie for the last wildcard spot, and a victory in this game would have pushed back the hopes of the hated Maple a Leafs. The game was less crucial for the Habs, but they’re in a race to the finish with the Tampa Bay Lightning for home ice advantage, so those 2 points mattered too. Unfortunately the Wings were playing without Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, their two biggest stars who are sidelined by injuries, most likely for the rest of the season.

We flew into Detroit the morning of the game and took a cab to our hotel, that was located by the river, a couple of blocks from the Joe Louis Arena. We’d of course heard horror stories about how Detroit was largely abandoned, and we saw some of that on our way over. A large numbers of suburban homes are either abandoned or in an advanced state of disrepair. The closer we got to downtown,the better it seemed, but clearly this is a city that has fallen on hard times. Even newer constructions are no frills affairs. We dropped our bags at the room and set out to walk around and explore the riverfront area. I had a few landmarks in mind and set out to find them. First up was Joe Louis’s fist statue, a monument to the famous boxer. (A more traditional tribute is also found inside the Cobo Center) Right across the street from it is the Spirit of Detroit statue, in front of the Seal of the state of Michigan. We kept walking around downtown, but it was surprisingly deserted. Google maps indicated that there was a Michigan Sport Hall of Fame nearby and we headed out to find it. It was supposed to be part of Cobo Center but no one at their own info booth knew about it. (As a side note, the tourist maps handed out at the airport and hotels are quite out of date, with many listed attractions that have gone out of business. Obviously even Google has trouble keeping up with Detroit’s downfall.) Continue reading

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Washington, DC: Verizon Center, November 22 2013 (4 of 30)

I didn’t realize it at the time I booked this trip, but this game happened on the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, an event that shaped the American people for decades to come. (and 10 days later the Capitol turned 150 years old!) Washington bears witness to a long and eventful history, and we used the opportunity to play tourist for a couple of days and see the various monuments and museum that are legion around the National Mall. We flew in from Montreal the day before the game so we had the entire game day available, as well as most of the day after. We would try to cram in as much sightseeing as possible.

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Offside in Vancouver

I spent last week in Vancouver for a work related conference, and while I was sad that the event happened in the offseason, I still used the opportunity to walk around the city and explore its connection to hockey.

My first stop was of course the Rogers Arena, home of the Canucks. Looking at Google Maps, it appeared to be a short walk away from my hotel near the Convention Center, so I set off to find it. Downtown Vancouver is very nice, with lots of luxury shops (Coach, Versace, Villeroy & Boch, etc), so it was a pleasant walk to the arena. As I was coming up to the area indicated on my map, I could see it in the distance. But as I got closer, I realized that what I was seeing was BC Place, home of the BC Lions from the CFL, and the Whitecaps from the MLS. ┬áHere’s a view of BC Place from the opposite side I was coming from.

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BC Place

On the right hand side of the photo, across the elevated highway is the Rogers Arena. Continue reading

Offside in Los Angeles

Last June I attended the Electronic Entertainment Expo (better known as E3) in Los Angeles. The Kings were battling the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals, and I foolishly hoped I could get a ticket on the secondary market for one of the games. (Realistically, the tickets would have been way overpriced, but a guy can dream).

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Ottawa: Scotiabank Place, October 23 2010 (2 of 30)

For the 2010-2011 season, I chose to go to Ottawa. Being the closest city to Montreal, this was an easy one to get out of the way. We chose the October 23rd game because it was a rare Saturday away game for the Habs. (Most Saturdays, the Habs play in Montreal. I guess it’s a benefit of being the oldest franchise in the league).

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Offside in New-York

I’ve been to New-York twice since starting this trek, but either after the local teams have been eliminated, or during the off season. But any time I’m in the Big Apple, I try to hit the NHL Store. Located in the same building as NHL headquarters (1185 Avenue of the Americas), it offers all manners of NHL merchandise. It is not that impressive, but one thing I like is that you can buy NHL branded items (as opposed to team branded).
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