The Sharks will play 41 road games in 29 different North American cities this season. First up will be trips to Vancouver, St. Louis and Dallas. Here’s how I rank the towns for the hockey buzz and more.
At Vancouver - October 10
On a clear day there is no city more beautiful in the entire NHL than Vancouver, British Columbia. Considering that it’s a mere 2 ½ hour flight from the Bay Area, this should be a must stop for any Sharks fan considering a roadie. (You can also drive it in a 16 hour marathon day). Think of San Francisco with snow capped mountains and even more cultural diversity. And think hockey. If you’re wondering just how important the Canucks are to the average Vancouverite, imagine what the Green Bay Packers mean to the average citizen of Wisconsin. And then multiply that by 2. I’m a runner so I always schedule a jog around the world famous Stanley Park Seawall. It’s a 10-kilometer loop around Canada’s version of Central Park in Manhattan. Even if you’re not a runner its an amazing walk or bike ride.
Randy’s Roadie Rank : #2 - Amazing beauty, the best fresh salmon anywhere and very passionate hockey fans.
At St. Louis - October 15
St. Louis is one of those cities that you have to work a little to get to know. But once you figure it out there’s plenty of fun to be had. There’s no question that “The Gateway To The West” is first and foremost a Cardinals Baseball town. But the Blues have a long and strong tradition dating back to 1967. They have loyal hockey fans that are still longing for a first ever Stanley Cup. The consumption of BBQ and live Blues music are my two favorite off-day activities in St. Louis. And don’t skip the tour and gondola ride in the iconic Gateway Arch. It’s a spectacular attraction and America’s tallest national monument.
Randy’s Roadie Rank: #23 – Be sure to tour a brewery when you’re there and I would advise combining your St. Louis roadie with a trip to nearby Chicago.
At Dallas - October 17
The NHL hockey scene in Dallas has come a long way from the old Reunion Arena days. The American Airlines Center is world class, and while the crowds for Stars games are a little thinner than in their Stanley Cup heyday with Mike Modano, Brett Hull and Ed Belfour, there is still a strong core of hockey fanatics. Away from the rink there’s plenty to do. Back to my running theme, I always hit Katie’s Trail near the Dallas West End for a good workout. The dining options are endless in The Metroplex but the Sharks broadcast crew often ends up at one of those all-you-can eat Brazilian steakhouses. And yes, everything is big in Texas, especially the shopping malls like Grapevine Mills near DFW Airport.
Randy’s Roadie Ranking: #18 – It represents one of the darkest periods in American history but don’t skip the audio tour at the Texas Schoolbook Depository. And if you’re already in Texas why not skip over to Nashville. Don’t forget your boots.