The Sharks are back on the road for their first extended trip and their first visit to the Eastern Conference. Here’s how I rank the cities for their hockey buzz and more.
Detroit - October 21
Detroit’s been in the headlines lately for a lot of the wrong reasons. But what it may lack in some areas it more than makes up for as an Original Six hockey city. After all, it is aptly nicknamed Hockey Town. No visit to Joe Louis Arena would be complete without a photo op in front of the Gordie Howe statue. And while the “old barn” is overdue for a remake or replacement there’s something about those Stanley Cup banners in the rafters dating back to 1936 that makes a trip to Detroit special. For food and drink check out Cheli’s Chili bar next to Comerica Park where you might run into owner and newly elected Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios.
Randy’s Roadie Rank : #11 - On an off day sign up for an assembly line tour at the Ford factory in Dearborn and don’t miss fascinating Greenfield Village.
Boston October 24
Boston is without doubt one of my favorite road cities in the NHL. First there’s the history. Then there’s the passion for sports. Right now the Bruins will be taking a temporary backseat to the World Series bound Red Sox, but have no doubt; Boston is a big time hockey town. And if you’re a first time visitor, check out America’s oldest restaurant, the Union Oyster House (est. 1826). If prime rib is your thing there’s none better than Durgin Park, an establishment I first visited with my old broadcast partner Pete Stemkowski back in the day.
Randy’s Roadie Rank: #9 – I know it sounds touristy but walk the Freedom Trail and chow down at Quincy Market. Trust me.
Montreal - October 26
Remember how many swimming pools you saw in backyards the last time you flew into LAX or Orange County? Well now imagine flying into Montreal at night in January and seeing that many outdoor ice rinks, all of them lit! It gives you an idea of how important hockey is to the city and it’s residents. Montreal is the birthplace of hockey and the game is taken very seriously. Sharks alumni captain Vincent Damphousse once told me that when he played for the Canadiens and went out for dinner with a date, the next days newspapers would have a picture of him exiting the restaurant, the name of his date, a detailed description of what he ate and exactly how much he tipped the wait staff. I think you’re starting to understand. French is the primary language spoken in Montreal but you can get by with English almost everywhere. There’s a lot to see and experience in this European-like city. Put a trip to Montreal and to a Habs game on your “must do” bucket list.
Randy’s Roadie Ranking: #1 – This is my holy grail of NHL road cities and a Dunn’s Smoked Meat sandwich at about 2 or 3am is a must.
Ottawa - October 27
On this trip the Ottawa stop will be the second game of back to backs for the Sharks so there won’t be much time for sightseeing or off day frolicking. The Canadian Tire Centre where the Senators play is in Kanata, a 30-minute drive from downtown. But in the city of Ottawa itself the two main attractions are the Canadian federal parliament buildings and the Rideau Canal. If it’s cold enough for the canal to freeze over you can rent skates and take a twirl on the world’s largest skating rink.
Randy’s Roadie Ranking: #15 – The drive to the arena from downtown can be a schlep so leave early and plant yourself at the Molson Canadian Brew pub inside the arena and warm up before game time.