The Nashville Predators game against the Vancouver Canucks on March 31 was the 19th NHL contest Rob Suggitt had been to in 19 days, more than halfway through his journey to see 30 NHL games in 30 days – in each of the 30 NHL cities across North America, a trip spanning more than 23,000 miles.
The “30 games in 30 nights” trip was an idea Suggitt has thought about for more than a decade, one that had been put on the back burner many times before due to cost or time. As he put the final touches on this year’s plan last fall, he met executives from Make--Wish Foundation Canada and was led to adding a new purpose to the trip, to use it to help raise money and awareness for the Make-A-Wish organization.
“This is a trip of a lifetime for me,” Suggitt said. “I don’t like to describe it as a bucket list, but a wish list. It’s easy for me, as a hockey fan, to get around to see all of these games, but it isn’t easy for kids to get their wish granted.”
Suggitt, who is funding 100 percent of the trip’s costs – airline travel, game tickets and lodging – personally, says that as he receives publicity about the trip, more and more fans are stopping him and offering to buy him a beer or a bite to eat. Instead of taking them up on it, Suggitt asks that they donate that money to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
On March 13, the month-long marathon began in Long Island, New York, at an Islanders game at Nassau Coliseum and then continued on to hit five Northeastern cities before moving to Florida, Arizona and then through Canada. Suggitt was lucky, he says, to get back to his hometown of Edmonton for game No. 11 to do laundry and take a quick breather.
The night before arriving in Nashville, Suggitt saw another Central Division team – the St. Louis Blues – also take on the Canucks.
“Every time I go to a different city, a different arena, I love it,” Suggitt said. “They all have a different feel and way the fans cheer.”
Despite only having a few hours to check out Nashville before the game, Suggitt was excited to see the city again after visiting the Music City for the first time after 2010’s flood.
“I love [Nashville]. People might not realize it that live here, that come to hockey games here, but you’ve got something special,” Suggitt said. “When you can go enjoy nightlife, or day life, before or after a hockey game – where people are having fun, having drinks, listening to some music – it’s a unique thing that not many places have. It’s something special.”
At the start of his trip, Suggitt would research the buildings he was going to prior to his arrival, learning about what the building is known for or what kind of shenanigans to expect, but as the trip progressed, Suggitt decided to instead let the experience be a surprise.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Suggitt made his way around the Bridgestone Arena concourse, chatting with fans and getting suggestions on some of the best food to try, which, according to many, was the barbeque.
Despite the game not ending in their team’s favor, Suggitt took notice of the Citizens of Smashville and the way in which they backed their squad.
“It’s great to be in the crowd for a Predators game,” Suggitt said via email the day after the contest. “My favorite part of the night was the fans. They’re the loudest I’ve heard so far in my trip, and from what I was told by fans around me, last night was just an average night. It would have been great to see the Preds win and hear the fans’ response.”
With a trip back to Nashville - to take in the city’s sights and sounds that he didn’t have a chance to visit this time - already on the horizon, Suggitt offered a piece of advice for any other hockey fans contemplating a trip to see hockey in the Music City:
“I would tell people to get to the area early, because it’s the best location for a hockey arena – downtown, and in the middle of the entertainment area. I’d tell people to enjoy the area first, and then make your way over to the hockey game, and be prepared to hear one of the best crowds in the NHL.”
To follow along with Suggitt’s trip and learn about how it supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation, visit www.30games-30nights.com. You can also tune into the Nashville Predators Pregame Show presented by NISSAN on Tuesday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m. prior to the Preds game against the Colorado Avalanche where Suggitt will be a guest and talk about his time at Bridgestone Arena.