The 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game will be played at SAP Center in San Jose on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS), with the NHL All-Star Skills on Friday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). In addition to being on the ice all weekend, Sharks defenseman Brent Burns is playing tour guide for NHL.com to help fans coming to the city enjoy every minute.
In this special story for NHL.com, Burns, a member of the Sharks since the 2011-12 season, writes about his favorite places in the city and the Bay Area.
When I was first traded to San Jose, I have to admit, I wasn't really sure what it was going to be like.
I mean, I knew it was in California and I had played there several times with the Minnesota Wild. But when you're on the road, you don't spend a lot of time in the cities you're playing in. Sometimes you're not even there for 24 hours.
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Most visiting players probably only get to see downtown San Jose. And while San Jose is the 10th-largest city in the United States, you'd never know that living out of a hotel in downtown.
So while I knew San Jose always had a good team and the fans were loud and passionate, I didn't know much about the city or the surrounding area.
And boy, was I surprised.
First off, it's obvious that San Jose isn't what you think of when you think of a traditional hockey market. You can't go outside, put on your skates and find the nearest lake. It doesn't get cold enough long enough, but people here love their hockey. When the Shark Tank is rocking, there's no place like it. It never gets old skating out of the shark head.
And the number of kids and adults that are playing the sport here is insane. They're crazy about it.
But hockey only is part of what makes this place special.
First, there is the weather. It's 70-plus degrees most days of the year and I haven't seen a snow shovel since I moved here. Wearing shorts and T-shirts to the rink for most of the hockey season is a pretty good thing.
Outside the rink, in the surrounding Bay Area, there is something for everyone.
Amazing trails in the foothills to hike and bike. One of the most unique cities in the world, San Francisco, is an hour away. The beautiful beaches of Santa Cruz are 45 minutes away, and Monterey and Carmel are just over an hour. There's world-class golf courses like Pebble Beach, The Olympic Club and our owner's course, CordeValle, all are within a short drive. Some of the best wine in the world is made in Napa Valley, 60 miles north. And in the winter, dozens of ski resorts, like Squaw Valley and Northstar, sit surrounding Lake Tahoe, one of the most amazing places I've ever seen. There really isn't anything that you don't have access to here.
It's also incredible to drive around the area and realize that most of the major tech companies all are here. This truly is one of the most innovative areas of the world.
The best part is you get all these things but still get to live in a city with a small-town feel. It's a great place to raise a family.
Downtown San Jose really has grown up since I arrived. It never really looked like a big city, but now there are high-rises and lots of cool gathering spots, like San Pedro Market. Outside of downtown are some great suburbs like Willow Glen, Los Gatos and Campbell. Two of my favorite restaurants are Aldo's in Los Gatos, which has been feeding Sharks players almost since the team has been in San Jose. True deliciousness. Another fantastic spot is Orchard City Kitchen in Campbell. Both are 10-15 minutes from downtown San Jose.
It's great that the NHL All-Star Game is coming and that the eyes of the entire hockey world will be focused on San Jose. Our fans and our city deserve it.
I hope all the visitors coming to San Jose, as well as the All-Star players, get a chance to get out of their hotels and out of the city limits to truly see for themselves how amazing this area is. I hope you enjoy it.