San Diego, California, is many things, but a hockey hotbed it is not.
NHL games aren’t typically televised, highlights are few and far between and even newspapers are sparse in their coverage.
Hockey fanatics Danielle Benson and Kim Abrahams couldn’t take it anymore, so they organized the trip of a lifetime to visit all 30 NHL arenas in a span of four months.
At first it was just a dream, then Dani, a 28-year-old carpenter, took a leave of absence, and Kim, a 31-year-old physical therapist, quit her job. All of the sudden the trip was a reality for the friends of six years, who met playing hockey and now coach together.
Here are 6 Things you should know about touring the NHL: 30 cities for 30 games in 116 days.
THE BUCKET LIST
“We had just watched The Bucket List and were talking about crazy trips to do before we die, even though that’s kind of morbid,” said Kim. “Ultimately we’re complete hockey nuts and we thought it would be the coolest trip ever to just pack your bags and go. That was probably a year-and-a-half a go. Then it came time to do it and we blew our savings accounts and took this wild trip that we’ll remember forever.”
THE ACTUAL LIST
“That took a solid week to do,” explained Kim. “We sat down and mapped it out and we tried to do it geographically correct, but just because you’re in a certain area, doesn’t mean the team is when you’re there. So it took us about eight different tries before we figured it out and luckily we both have family in many of the cities, so we figured out where we wanted to be for Thanksgiving and the holidays and worked it out from there.
"There were only two trips that didn’t make sense where we were in one section of the country and had to fly to the other one to make a game, then come back. It could have been a lot worse.”
AND THEY'RE OFF!
“Our first game was in San Jose and that was actually opening weekend of the regular season this year,” said Dani. “From there we flew home just for a couple of weeks, then we hit LA and Anaheim because they’re close to San Diego and they had a back-to-back weekend, then we came home for a bit before we flew to Vancouver and that was really the first day of our road trip because once we hit Vancouver, we weren’t home for a solid three-months. It was a 26-game road trip, so we left October 25th and we didn’t come home until January 25th. We came back from the all-star break because there was an eight-day block of time where we didn’t have games and so we finished in Phoenix on the 31st of January.”
THE HIGHLIGHT REEL
“St. Louis was really cool, we had a blast there,” said Dani. “They interviewed us on the jumbotron so everyone in the arena knew our story and what we were doing so it was really fun. At the end of the game everyone kept stopping us and wanting to talk to us, so we got to chat with all the locals and just talk about our trip and they told us about St. Louis hockey and everything.”
Editor’s Note: The girls visited Vancouver so early in their adventure that we weren’t made aware of their journey, otherwise they would have said Vancouver was the best, hands down, says this impartial Canucks employee.
SPEAKING OF VANCOUVER...
“The more we traveled, the more we found stuff that was appealing and that was really good factors or really good assets to an arena or a team and Vancouver definitely had that,” said Kim. “It’s right downtown, it’s easy to go to, you can use mass transit, and the rink itself, We Are All Canucks, that’s everywhere and you transcend the identity of the team into the rink like with the hallways with the design of it with the colours of your team. That’s huge because some rinks don’t have that. We love Vancouver.”
VANCOUVER - PART II
Editor’s Note: The following was taken from Dani & Kim’s blog NHL Tour 2011-12. Check it out to read their thoughts on every NHL rink and city and for a full photo recap of their trek. Here's more of their thoughts about Vancouver.
“Fun addict fact: There are COFFEE SHOPS all over the city….and not just starbucks, although they are here too, but tons of mom-n-pop coffee shops EVERYWHERE!!!!!!! Seasonal note…. FALL COLOR!!! The trees were on fire with fall color.
“Coolest experience: Hockey is on EVERY TV in EVERY restaurant and bar. We have been in the vicinity of a TV for 12 hours and the whole time (eating/walking/working out) it has all been hockey…a true fan’s heaven. Money note: The five dollar Canadian bill has kids playing hockey on it! Love that!! Dani is especially happy it is on the “5” dollar bill.”