Cross-continent tour to continue

Everything is fine ... I've had the last two days off, and will be off Sunday as well. A rare three-day weekend for me.

I will be heading to Denver two weeks from Monday to visit a woman I used to work with almost a decade ago and with whom I reconnected last year. The plan is to see "Sweeney Todd" the night I land, and then the Avalanche and Nashville Predators at the Pepsi Center the next night.

That will be one more arena off the list.

For those interested, here's where I have seen NHL games from east to west:

Boston Garden: Bruins-New York Rangers on a Saturday afternoon in the late '80s with an ex-girlfriend. The highlight was her buying a $500 leather dress that she needed to pour herself -- including her 'D' cups -- into.

Madison Square Garden: Countless Rangers games as a fan and covering games for ESPN SportsTicker. My father took me to my first NHL game there in 1971 against the California Golden Seals, and later we'd go see the WHA's Golden Blades before they hauled stakes across the river to New Jersey.

Nassau Coliseum: Covering Islanders games for Ticker and had front-row tickets for the Isles and the Central Red Army during their tour in the '80s. Home of the steepest press box I have ever been in.

Brendan Byrne/Continental Airlines Arena: The former home of the Devils. Really a bland, flavorless arena in the middle of a swamp, but the press box was at center ice. Sat next to a bitter Paul Holmgren there once.

The Spectrum: Several dates there to see the Flyers, including one game against the Canucks when Jim Sandlak took a shot off the foot that left him unable to skate the remainder of that game.

Le Colisee: Fevrier 1989, temperature somewhere around 20 below zero, Winter Carnival winding down ... and me sitting three rows off center ice watching the Quebec Nordiques and Minnesota North Stars -- now Colorado versus Dallas. Two things from this game: first, explaining to Dino Ciccarelli leaning over into the tunnel that, yes, I speak English, and yes, I was wearing a Minnesota Vikings sweatshirt. Second was watching the North Stars' Neal Broten skating up ice and using his back skate as a kind of rudder. Quebec won, 6-4.

Bell Centre: Saw the Canadiens and Rangers, but here was an odd twist -- both teams wore their road uniforms. That meant blue helmets for both, at least for the first period. Montreal played the final two periods in red jerseys with white helmets.

Corel Centre: Now Scotiabank Place, been there a couple times to see the Senators, including a New Years Day matchup against the Devils. Guy cheering after an Ottawa goal elbowed me in the ribs.

The Aud: The former home of the Buffalo Sabres. Saw them play the Islanders there in the spring of 1985. Animotion, anyone?

Mellon Arena: Much to the chagrin of Associated Press sports writer Alan Robinson, I was at the game in 2000 when Mario Lemieux made his latest comeback. I was there to write a color sidebar of fans at the game against the Maple Leafs in which Super Mario assisted on Jaromir Jagr's goal 33 seconds in and later added a goal and assist in a 5-0 win. Also had been there to see other games as a fan, and an AHL matchup between Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Cincinnati.

Verizon Center: On a whim, and in the pre-Ovechkin days, I drove to Washington DC from Queens, N.Y. to see the Capitals play the Red Wings. Sitting in the last row behind the net, there were far more Detroit fans in attendance.

Nationwide Arena: Early last season, I drove from Chicago to Columbus to watch the Blue Jackets take on Phoenix. The best thing about going to a game in central Ohio is that I almost assuredly will never have to go there again. The next best thing was finding this place on Interstate 70. Gimme a double-double ...

Chicago Stadium and the United Center: First, the old barn on Madison. Saw an Easter Day matchup in the early '90s against Tampa Bay. Danton Cole scored twice for the Lightning, and Jeremy Roenick netted his 49th for the Blackhawks in a 3-3 tie. Home of the best foghorn in the NHL -- at the time. Also the loudest building I've ever been in. The UC, while more plush, is little like the old building. Even the foghorn isn't quite the same.

Scottrade Center: The most recent arena I visited in December 2007. After driving to St. Louis to watch Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers dismantle the Rams during the day, I wandered over to see the Blues and Flames that night. Mike Keenan returned to St. Louis, the fans still hate him (and in Philly ... and in Chicago ... and in New York ... and in Florida ... and in Vancouver), but he earned his 600th career win.

Reunion Arena: Was fortunate to cover a handful of Stars games there in 1997 when I was working for a piss-ant little paper in Oklahoma. If I had to cover prep events in places like Lone Grove, Healdton and Thackerville, I made sure that I took time to visit civilization now and again. This was the home of the best foghorn in the league -- one blast for every Dallas goal.

Xcel Energy Center: Hard to believe this was once the place where I used to watch the Minnesota Moose of the old International Hockey League, sitting upstairs for about $5, and then getting vouchers for free tickets to see teams from places like Fort Wayne and Kalamazoo. Today, it's the gleaming home of the Wild, who I saw in 2005 against Toronto. Wondered why I saw so many Canadians there for that game, when, duh, it hit me that Minnesota borders western Ontario.

Met Center: A pit, right down to the green, white and yellow seats. But it was a pit that was comfortable and a fun place to go to. Watched Wayne Gretzky, then with Los Angeles, barking at a referee for not getting a call his way. The fans made sure Wayne heard it.

The Saddledome: Flew to Calgary in the early 90s to see the Rangers (who lost, what else?) Following a Flames goal, two things on each side of the scoreboard would release flames. That's what you want to see in an indoor arena -- fire. I also got to spend several hours in a Calgary hospital when I woke up in the middle of the night, and was unable to hear. Two inner ear infections will do that to you. I also ended up in a clinic and was taken care of by a doctor who loved boxing ... and was a dead ringer for Gomez Addams in the old series "The Addams Family," save for his white hair.

Pacific National Exhibition: The old home of the Canucks back in the days of the stick-in-rink logo, the "V" unis and the flying skate. Flew to Vancouver for a weekend in 1993, and saw the expansion Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (stupidest fucking name in professional sports history ... EVER!) Jyrkki Lumme had two assists and Kay Whitmore made 18 saves as the Canucks lost, 6-3.

1 comment:

The Girl in Black said...

"going to visit"... otherwise known as traveling to shag.

Here's to have a very excellent "visit", ya hussy!