Barring a huge Anaheim collapse it appears that the Sharks will clash with their rivals, the LA King, in round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
If Thursday’s LA vs. SJ matchup at the Tank is any indication, we are in for a series to remember. The Sharks captured a hard-fought 2-1 victory showing quite evident that this West Coast rivalry is alive and well. In many ways these team mirror one another.
It starts at the top. The Sharks’ GM Doug Wilson and the Kings’ Dean Lombardi are both experienced passionate leaders who have built their staffs with solid and trusted hockey people. Lombardi learned his trade as an assistant in San Jose. Later Dean earned the keys to the GM’s office. At the time the Sharks franchise was in disarray. Under Lombardi’s leadership the Sharks built a competitive club relying on cagey veterans who could still play at a high level, yet were also able to mentor young players like Patrick Marleau and Marco Sturm. Later the Sharks stumbled, missing the playoffs in 2002-03, and Dean was relieved of his duties. After several seasons serving in Philadelphia’s scouting staff, Lombardi was named GM of the Kings. After a partial re-build, strong drafting and a culture change, LA won the Stanley Cup in 2012.
The Sharks GM, Doug Wilson took over for Lombardi and has assembled a club that is an annual Cup contender. Wilson has made strong draft picks, wise free-agent pickups and has fostered an environment of success. Each season the Sharks ‘refresh and reset’ by anticipating moves that are focused on the future without sacrificing the present. Under Doug’s leadership the Sharks have made the playoffs in 10 straight seasons, second only to the Detroit Red Wings.
The Kings’ 2012 Cup team’s bench boss was long-time NHL coach Darryl Sutter. Sutter’s no-nonsense approach was exactly what LA needed to push them to the top. It was the same Darryl Sutter that was hired in San Jose prior to the 1997-98 by then GM Dean Lombardi. It has always been Sutter’s style to create an environment of responsibly, no excuses and an inward pressure. Some call it ‘tough love’, but it drove players like Owen Nolan, Mike Ricci and Vincent Damphousse to some remarkable achievements in San Jose.
The Sharks head coach these days is hockey ‘lifer’ Todd MacLellan. He’s regarded as one of the best head coaches in the NHL and his record reflects that. MacLellan served as an assistant to Detroit’s Mike Babcock in their 2008 Stanley Cup season. That success catapulted Todd into the head coach job in San Jose. He has assembled a coaching staff that leaves no stone unturned in their quest to bring the Cup to the South Bay.
Both the Kings and Sharks have 4 games remaining in the regular season to prepare for what could be a first round playoff collision. Each club relies on a veteran cast of performers like the Sharks’ Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle. The Kings’ veteran core is lead by guys like Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Anzi Kopitar.
Regardless of the final outcome of this year’s playoffs both LA and SJ have a wealth of young talent, most notably the Sharks Logan Couture and the Kings’ Drew Daughty. Daughty suffered a shoulder injury in the most recent Sharks/Kings battle. His return is essential to the Kings’ playoff fortunes.
On top of talent, these two clubs boast big, strong rosters that do not shy aware from a physical style. In fact, these teams seem to feed off one another with intensity. The long-time NorCal-SoCal rivalry has not been lost on the NHL. Two recent playoff series have only stoked the fire. The Sharks defeated the Kings in six games in round one of their 2011 run. Last season, the Kings ousted the Sharks in a hard-fought second round matchup up. It took seven games and total home ice success for the Kings to move on. Should the clubs meet this year the Sharks will hold the home-ice edge.
As they line up for the opening faceoff, know that both clubs despise but also respect one another. The Kings and Sharks share a common goal, the Stanley Cup. However, one of these teams will go home unsatisfied after the first round.
At this time of the year, the hard work and extra effort that the San Jose Sharks have put in really starts to pay off.
It starts at the top with the management, hockey operations, and scouting. All have to work together to properly field a team, take care of the budget, deal with injuries, and prepare for contingencies. It continues with the coaching staff, in the area of managing players’ ice time during a difficult, condensed schedule, developing players in practice, and getting results on game nights.
But perhaps the greatest area of importance lies in the players’ conditioning base, body maintenance, and sheer resolve during the difficult grind of the season. That’s something that begins in the early summer, when the Sharks work out their individual training programs with Mike Potenza, Ray Tufts, and the staff. Sometimes they train with specialized coaches, whether it’s for off-ice training, or for skating edge work. But summer is no longer a leisurely time for hockey players. It’s the time when hard work is banked for future dividend collection later.
“Later” is now. Sharks Hockey has just finished a stretch of playing 14 games in 26 days, with travel to and from three of the four time zones on the North American continent. As for the one time zone they didn’t play in, the Central Time Zone, they had to fly through it to get to where they were going. They’ve had to face the likes of top rated clubs like the Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh Penguins, desperate clubs like the Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals, a few teams out of the hunt but with a lot to prove like Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg, and a few afternoon games thrown in to boot. In addition, the team put together an 8-3-3 record in those games.
That’s a schedule that is being played out throughout the National Hockey League, and we are starting to see a few injuries, some serious, as a result. Through the process, fatigue sometimes results in a fluky play. That was the case on Saturday, when Colorado’s Matt Duchene was injured on an unfortunate collision with his linemate, Jamie McGinn, just 32 seconds into the game.
Later in the contest, McGinn, who had the lighting rod attached to his body for most of the day, threw a body check on James Sheppard, who fell awkwardly into the boards. It was another scary moment, but it was great to see Sheppard return to action and make another tremendous contribution to the team’s effort.
Sheppard’s story is an excellent story. He essentially missed two full seasons after seriously injuring his knee in the summer of 2010. Provided a chance by the Sharks, who acquired him from Minnesota for a third round selection in the 2013 NHL Draft, Sheppard has worked diligently on restoring his health and has transformed his game, and in the stretch drive, he has provided lots of value to his team. In his last 5 games, he’s scored 2 goals and added 3 assists, and has looked very comfortable at center along with his usual linemates, Tommy Wingels and Marty Havlat, who have shown good chemistry together.
When called upon, Alex Stalock’s solid goaltending has been another show of depth on the squad. Stalock, another amazing story of medical recovery, has pushed Antti Niemi to be at his best and has provided 11 wins, 2 shutouts, and a 1.91 goals-against average to the table. He and Niemi are always working on their game.
With Adam Burish out indefinitely after hand surgery, the Sharks depth was showcased when Andrew Desjardins was put together with Mike Brown and Tyler Kennedy. Even though the Sharks lost in Colorado on Saturday afternoon, this unit succeeded in drawing two penalties, including one that led to a power play goal by Joe Pavelski. This line is not simply “eating up minutes,” it’s also providing important value to the team.
It’s in games like these, coming up, that are really showcasing the hard work of players such as these. They set things up for the top scorers like Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, and Logan Couture, and are important parts of any championship club.
All of us can’t wait until the playoffs begin, but the final stretch of the regular season should prove to be a dramatic and spectacular roadway to that exciting time. How will the Sharks do in their final six games of the season? Where will they finish up? Who will be in the playoff lineup for Game One, and what team will the Sharks face?
All questions will be answered soon, but one has been answered already. The San Jose Sharks have been preparing for this time of year for a long time. I’m Dan Rusanowsky, for sjsharks.com.
The road to an NHL career is long and often bumpy. Every player has his own story. Players come from the biggest cities and from the smallest towns. They come from the North America. They come from Europe. It’s the last amateur stop that separates the men from the boys. Many top players come via the Canadian Junior system; others make their way by way of U.S. College Hockey.
There was a day when virtually every NHL player came from the 3 Canadian Juniors leagues. The juniors consist primarily of the ‘Western Canadian’, the ‘Quebec Major’ and the ‘Ontario Hockey League’. Prior to the 1970’s it was rare to even dress a U.S. born player. Often they were not even scouted. It was assumed American players were not skilled or tough enough to crack an NHL lineup.
Today American players have proven their worth and the U.S. college system is a legitimate way to prepare for a pro career. Most Canadian-born players still take the junior path, while most American-born players take the college route. A vast majority of European players play junior hockey in their home countries. Some Americans play junior, some Canadians play college.
The current Sharks roster is a good example of the face of big league pro hockey in 2014. San Jose has 11 players from juniors, 11 from U.S. colleges. The club’s 2 Europeans learned at home. It can be argued that the high level stars still come primarily from the juniors. The Sharks Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic all played Canadian Junior hockey. However Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle, Justin Braun, Tommy Wingels and others played college hockey.
Why junior? Why college?
Those who support junior hockey say that it closely resembles the pro game. Juniors play a 70+ game regular season with a long playoff system. Juniors travel thousands of miles by bus. Players wear half-shields, fighting is allowed and the juniors foster an environment that makes hockey the number one priority. Junior clubs are also very young, with players being from 16 to 20 years of age. It’s a great choice for a young ‘can’t miss’ type of player.
College hockey is a great option for an ‘excellent’ player who may aspire to a pro career but wants to a plan B by getting a great education while playing high level hockey. College players are generally older, more mature and bigger physically. NCAA hockey insists on full face shields or cages.
Junior hockey has more games than practices. College plays only 2 games a week which allows for more practices. NCAA hockey is perfect for the ‘late-bloomer’.
The old prejudices are no longer in place. NHL teams know that great players come from everywhere. Great players come from junior, college and from Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Winning is all they care about.
The new trend that will continue in the future is high-level players born and bred in the states of California and Texas. The Sharks boast 2 Californians, winger Matt Nieto from Long Beach and defenseman Matt Tennyson of Pleasanton. Both played in California, both took the college route. Nieto went to Boston University, Tennyson played at Western Michigan.
The hockey world is just beginning to see the emergence of players who have grown up in NHL warm-weather markets. The hard work of growing hockey in places like California, Texas, Florida and other is beginning to pay off. That only means good things for young players and for NHL fans. Dreams of NHL glory can come from warm weather places as well cold weather places. Great players can come from college and from junior hockey. One day the Sharks will dress a team made primarily of players from places like San Jose, Gilroy, San Francisco, Oakland, Fremont and countless other California towns. Equally likely is Division 1 hockey will be played by programs like Stanford, UC Berkeley and San Jose State. On that you can bet.
Before Adam's injury I watched the video of Jason Fuchs who plays in the Quebec Major Junior League lose a portion of his finger after a puck tore it off the bone.
I think shot blocking should be reconsidered as an essential defensive and penalty killing strategy.
It's not that as a player you shouldn't try to prevent the puck from getting to the net but do we really want players who are 15 feet away going down on one knee to stop a slapper from the blue line? Why do we have goalies?
I would hope coaches would examine their demands on their troops. All coaches have teams collapse to the slot and net in the defensive zone. In turn you are willing to give up points.
As the puck inevitably finds its way to the DMen with the big shots, a defensive forward is expected to get out and front or block the shot.
Those expectations are always attempted and many times met without injury. However I ask again, as a Sharks Fan are you content with two of your integral players are lost to the team because they prevented shots from getting to the winningest goalie in the NHL?
So maybe it's the way the guys block shots. Instead of sliding down on one knee and risking many appendages and fleshy parts, why not just skate at the shooter, stay on your feet and take the puck off your shins or skate guards?
I love the heart and the courage shown by all the Sharks. I just wish their sacrifice didn't result in losing players that you want to see on the ice.
My friend and colleague Jamie Baker knows a thing or two about getting to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. “Bakes” is best know for scoring the biggest Sharks goal ever when he netted the winner in the teams’ Game 7 victory over the Detroit Red Wings back in the spring of 1994. By the way the 20th anniversary of that seminal moment in franchise history is a month away. But Baker also scored both goals in a 2-1 Sharks win at Los Angeles on April 5th of that year. That victory put the Sharks in the post season for the first time ever.
Monday night in Calgary the Sharks earned a point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Flames. That point gave them 101 on the season and sent them to the playoffs for the 17th time. It’s also the 10th year in a row that the Sharks will get a shot at playing for glory. Only the Detroit Red Wings, with 22 straight trips to the post season, have a longer streak in the NHL. It remains to be seen if the Wings can make it 23 in a row as they are still battling in the Eastern Conference race.
Baker pointed out in his Great White Bite blog yesterday (is it wrong to blog about a blog?) that a decade of playoff hockey is the envy of a lot of organizations. He’s right. We all tend to take it for granted that the Sharks are going to be a playoff team every year. Many tend to measure the success of the franchise by how far they go in the playoffs. Fair enough, but first you have to maneuver through a treacherous and grueling schedule and get to the playoffs before you can seek the Promised Land. To be a consistent playoff team takes the commitment of ownership, the wisdom of the general manager and the skill of his scouts, the acumen of the coaching staff and the talent of the players. It also takes the support of the fans, sponsors and broadcast partners that help pay the bills. The Sharks are blessed to have enjoyed plenty of the above.
Detroit’s 22 year playoff run is tops in all of professional sports in the US and Canada. The San Antonio Spurs of the NBA are next at 16 straight. The San Jose Sharks are now in elite company with 10 straight playoff seasons, tied with another basketball team the Denver Nuggets.
The best is yet to come. The Sharks will battle for the Pacific Division title and perhaps even the Presidents Trophy over their final 9 games. And after that the best hockey tournament in the world will start. But before all of that, take a moment to appreciate another trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 14 teams won’t be going this year. Those teams will be envious.
I’m Randy Hahn for sjsharks.com
It’s an exciting time of the year. There are 10 games remaining in the regular season, beginning with Monday night’s game at Calgary.
Here is a breakdown of what’s left:
Mar. 24 at Calgary
Mar. 25 at Edmonton
Mar. 27 WINNIPEG
Mar. 29 at Colorado
Apr. 1 EDMONTON
Apr. 3 LOS ANGELES
Apr. 5 NASHVILLE
Apr. 9 at Anaheim
Apr. 11 COLORADO
Apr. 13 at Phoenix
As of March 24, here is what that schedule brings:
Games vs. Teams in Playoff Position: 5 (2 home, 3 away)
Games vs. Teams out of Playoff Position: 5 (3 home, 2 away)
Games vs. Pacific Division: 6 (2 home, 4 away)
Record vs. Pacific Division: 14-6-2 (H: 9-2-1 A: 5-4-1)
Games vs. Central Division: 4 (3 home, 1 away)
Record vs. Central Division: 11-5-2 (H: 8-0-0 A: 3-5-2)
Top Scorers Facing Sharks in Final 10 Games:
Calgary Jiri Hudler (15-31-46)
Edmonton Taylor Hall (24-41-65)
Winnipeg Blake Wheeler (24-35-59)
Colorado Matt Duchene (22-45-67)
Los Angeles Anze Kopitar (22-36-58)
Nashville Shea Weber (18-28-46)
Anaheim Ryan Getzlaf (29-47-76)
Phoenix Keith Yandle (8-42-50)
Top Goaltenders Facing Sharks in Final 10 Games:
Calgary Karri Ramo (12-10-4, 2.60)
Edmonton Ben Scrivens (6-7-0, 2.67)
Winnipeg Ondrej Pavelec (20-24-6, 2.97)
Colorado Semyon Varlamov (34-14-5, 2.48)
Los Angeles Jonathan Quick (23-15-2, 2.01)
Nashville Pekka Rinne (6-9-1, 2.75)
Anaheim Jonas Hiller (27-11-6, 2.40)
Phoenix Mike Smith (27-21-10, 2.65)
The Sharks are poised to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs for a 10th consecutive season. When they do, they will have a chance to be the only team in the National Hockey League that can say that.
There is one other team in the NHL that might have something to say about that. The Detroit Red Wings are in the heart of a tremendous battle within the Eastern Conference of the NHL, and for the first time in a long time, there is a real possibility that they could miss post-season action. With 12 games to play, Detroit is in the final playoff position in the East. Given the spirit with which they have been playing, I’m not betting against them.
The Sharks and the Red Wings have benefited from tremendous contributions from their coaching staffs to solve a variety of challenges. In Todd McLellan’s case, he and his staff have done a remarkable job in managing through several serious injuries to important players, have set up young players to succeed, including a handful who have spent most of the year in the American Hockey League and have also done amazing work in the area of ice time management to set things up for the final drive and the post-season.
While Detroits head coach Mike Babcock’s challenges have been distributed differently, it is clear that he and his staff have really excelled as well. These are two coaches who deserve some serious consideration for the Jack Adams Award, handed to the NHL’s Coach of the Year, along with a reasonably large pool of candidates who will be considered.
Over the last 9 years, the Sharks and the Red Wings are the only teams to qualify for every playoff year, and they have each advanced beyond the first round a League-high 7 times. Only Philadelphia (5 advancements) , Boston (4), NY Rangers (4), Pittsburgh (4), and Vancouver (4) have come close.
Now, since the 2003-04 season, when San Jose began its current run of qualifying for the post-season, there have been eight different Cup winners, with Chicago the only team to win twice. There have been nine different losing Finalists.
But, here is where it gets interesting. There have been only 5 teams to advance to the Conference Final or further a minimum of 3 times. Those teams are: Philadelphia (4 times), Pittsburgh (3), Chicago (3), Detroit (3), and San Jose (3).
I think that the Sharks see this year as a year of great challenge and tremendous opportunity. They have been prepared extraordinarily well by an outstanding coaching staff. They have built their depth, and have proved that they can handle adversity. As of this moment, they are in first place in their division, with a chance to capture that banner by the end of the season.
Now, all that remains is to play the final portion of the schedule, and get to professional sports’ ultimate playoff championship, the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Let the games begin! I’m Dan Rusanowsky, for sjsharks.com
It takes a lot of heart to play in the NHL and the San Jose Sharks know that more than anyone. Since the team’s birth back in 1991 the professional ice hockey club has given fans some great memories. The SAP Center has been the venue where many of those memories have been made.
Big goals, great goaltending, last minute comebacks and incredible individual accomplishments have been many. But this past Tuesday we may have been given the finest, most important memory of all.
18 year-old Sam Tageson was born with a heart condition that has affected his family every day of his life. Sam may need a heart transplant sometime in the near future, but in the meantime, Sam treats every day like the gift it is. Helping him along the way has been his love for the game of hockey and most specifically the San Jose Sharks. Despite doctor’s advice, Sam loves to play roller hockey. He’s a goalie and his role is to protect the net. It’s the game that gives him joy. It gives his life structure.
As is the case with many children who have medical challenges, the future is uncertain. Along the way, Sam’s family came in contact with the Make a Wish Foundation of the Bay Area. Sam’s wish was to skate with San Jose’s NHL team. I’m sure his family tried to let Sam know that was a lot to ask for. Parents are there to protect their sons and daughters from harm and from hurt. But like a wonderful glorious daydream…the Sharks Foundation entered his life. Sam would be granted his wildest dream.
On Tuesday Sam signed a one-day contract with the Sharks. Terms were not disclosed. The team bought him a nice suit, gave him a customized home jersey and let him get on the ice with his heroes towards the end of the morning skate. The players treated him as they would any new teammate. They gave him some good natured teasing and tips on how to improve his game. The Sharks spent time and smiles on their new friend.
In the afternoon Sam was let loose in the Sharks Store to pick up some new team gear.
Sam’s pregame meal was Chicken Parm in the Sharks Press Room. The young goalie and his family were joined at their meal by radio man Dan Rusanowsky. They also visited with other broadcasters Randy Hahn, Drew Remenda, Brodie Brazil and Bret Hedican. But the best was yet to come. Sam spent time in the Sharks dressing room prior to the game. He watched the warm-ups from the Sharks’ bench where almost every player acknowledged him a tap, fist bump or small joke. Jason Demers, as he does most every night, sprayed those on the bench with his water bottle.
He got to see firsthand how his heroes prepare for a game. With the warm up finished, the clock ticked down. The team shared their final moments before their trademark entrance via the “Shark Head”. The starting goalie Anti Niemi is first, followed by the Captain Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau is always last. But this night was different. Sam would be the last Shark to hit the ice. It was the first time ever that a non-player has skated through the “Shark Head”.
Sam joined the San Jose starters on the blueline as their names and pictures were announced on the in-house JumboTron. Following the anthem, Sam headed to the bench and was once again acknowledged, this time by the fans. Many gave him a standing ovation. Both teams, the Sharks and the Florida Panthers applauded or banged their sticks on the ice or the boards. Sam waved to the crowd as a flood of emotion came to Sam. He sobbed with joy and an understanding that his wish had been granted. It was a wish that he was able to share with his 17,500 best friends, the Sharks’ fans.
The kindness of the players was truly remarkable. I knew they are grounded, loyal and caring people but their performance on Tuesday may be their finest moment. The Sharks Foundation, Sharks’ staff, coaches, GM Doug Wilson and even Sharkie did everything possible to make this a memory for Sam and his family. At the same time all involved crafted a lasting memory for hockey fans everywhere.
We all know that sports are nothing more than a diversion for people, a way to forget their daily troubles and spend time with friends and family. But Tuesday Sharks hockey was more than that. Tuesday made sports important.
Click here and I dare you not to feel emotion for this brave young man.
As they get ready to begin a three game home stand against Florida, Anaheim and Washington, the San Jose Sharks are the best home ice team in the National Hockey League with a record of 25-4-4. That domination at SAP Center this season is a big reason why the team is tied for the Pacific Division lead and has a shot at the Presidents Trophy down the stretch. But if you look a little deeper there’s another reason the team is so well positioned. The Sharks were excellent on the road against the Eastern Conference.
With an unbalanced schedule and a work stoppage or two, it had been a long time since the Sharks visited every road team out east in the same season. But this year the NHL schedule maker finally got it right and Team Teal made an appearance in every Eastern Conference rink. With Sunday’s 1-0 shutout victory at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers, the Sharks have now completed their road schedule against the east.
So how did they do? As my colleague Jamie Baker would say, “Let’s run the numbers!” The Sharks finished with a 12-4 record on the road against the East. That’s good. That’s very good actually when you consider that this season the Sharks will have traveled more miles (57,612) than any other club in the league. The only losses came in Boston, Pittsburgh, Carolina and Buffalo. A few of my personal favorite wins include the wild 5-4 victory at Tampa when Martin St. Louis scored all 4 goals for the lightning but Joe Pavelski scored the last 3 goals of the game for his first NHL hat trick. Or how about the 3-0 win at Florida when Alex Stalock recorded his first career shutout? And it’s tough to top the 1-0 win over the Rangers highlighted by Antti Niemi’s brilliance in the net and Logan Couture’s remarkable shorthanded game winning goal.
Niemi went 7-3 on the road out East with three shutouts. Stalock was 4-1 with the perfect game against the Panthers. Patrick Marleau led the Sharks with 16 road points against the East. Joe Pavelski was tops with 8 goals, 6 of those coming in hat tricks at Tampa and Philadelphia. Jason Demers had 9 points to lead the Sharks defense. Five of Matt Nieto’s 10 goals so far this season have come on the road in the east. The Sharks were also perfect in shootouts with wins at Detroit, Washington and Columbus.
It was fun visiting all of the Eastern Conference arenas again. It was even more fun watching the Sharks dominate.
I’m Randy Hahn
I’ve always enjoyed playing, watching and talking hockey. It’s a game of action and excitement. It’s a game where effort trumps skill on many occasions.
Travel is another passion. I’ve lived on three continents, been to 23 countries and 45 states in my life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to combine these two interests during my sports-television career. Each year the Sharks send Randy Hahn, Drew Remenda, Dan Rusanowsky, Jamie Baker, producer Sean Maddison, graphics producer Darin Stephens and me on the road to visit the other 29 cities in the NHL.
Let me start by saying I think San Jose is the best stop in the league. For me they have classiest team, the nicest arena, best location, best TV techs and finest weather in all of the NHL. However for this exercise I’m eliminating San Jose from consideration.
Here is my NHL travel best-of list.
Most beautiful city…It’s hard to do much better than Vancouver, BC. It’s where sea meets land and mountains set the perfect backdrop. Stanley Park is an amazingly beautiful city part that offers world class vistas. Also considered…New York City and Calgary, AB.
Best arena to broadcast from…I love all of the Canadian building but for my money Calgary is the best. Camera angles are excellent, announcers are stationed almost over the rink and lighting is very good overall. Also noted…Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Best US venue…Dallas.
Best press meal. Writers, broadcasters and staff get access to an on-site pregame meal. Los Angeles has a spread that any fine restaurant would be proud of. Lots of choices, great salad bar, fresh fruit and soft serve ice cream make it a special place to visit. Others considered…Buffalo, Philadelphia, Minnesota and Montreal.
Best cheap meal….Marcel’s sandwiches in Edmonton. Try the super Donair/Gyro. Nice food courts in many places…most noted the ones in Calgary and Toronto.
Best restaurant…Ted’s Montana Grill in Columbus, followed by Cordero’s in Vancouver, and Caesars Steakhouse in Calgary. As for cities, LA and New York feature some amazing places for breakfast lunch or dinner..
Best ice. Near 100% of players claim Edmonton has the finest playing surface in hockey. A winter of severe cold and dry air make for good ice-making. Calgary, Minnesota and Detroit also boast great ice.
Best arena location. The Staples Center in LA is pretty awesome. Across the street there’s ‘LA Live’ along with hotels, restaurants and entertainment. Do yourself a favor and take in a Sharks’ game next time they visit the Kings. Another nice setup is the Coyotes with arena, shopping, meals and hotels all a short walk.
Best place with two hours to kill…the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in Toronto. Great displays take you into the history of the game while honoring the greatest players and teams of all-time. Exit through the gift shop and pick up a t-shirt of the 1917 Stanley Cup Champion Seattle Metropolitans.
Most-friendly people. The people in Calgary and Edmonton always welcome visitors with a smile.
Best walking city. It’s hard to top the overload of the senses that is New York City. Walk 10 minutes in any direction and you’ll see something you’ve never seen before. It’s free entertainment and makes it fun every time we visit the Big Apple. Other walking towns of note…Toronto, Vancouver and Chicago.
Best shopping town. Chicago’s Michigan Ave offers everything you’d ever want. I enjoy looking a high tech gear and clothing spots
Best off-day city. Chicago boasts great restaurants, museums, and shopping. Chi-town is also known for its entertainment, is it live blues, the Blue Man group, concerts or comedy clubs.
Best weather. Tampa Bay is a great place to go any winter. Mild temps and low humidity make for a break from places like Buffalo, Detroit and Winnipeg.
Best live music. Now I don’t much care for country music, but it is hard to ignore Nashville. Broadway is lined with bars with live music. People from around the world make pilgrimages to Nashville with hopes of see the next big talent. If you know your way around, there’s some nice rock bars too. Chicago live blues venues are tough to top also.
Best Hockey town. They call it ‘Hockeytown’ for a reason. Detroit’s love for the game spans generations. The Red Wings are the talk of the town all year round. Joe Louis Arena is always packed and the winged wheel logo is everywhere.
Best sports bar…’Real Sports’ in Toronto has set the standard for all to come after it. It features 199 TV’s, arranged around the enormous space. The jewel however is a truly massive 39-foot video display. Great food and drink, sports and lots of interesting characters make it fun.
Best place to come home to…San Jose and the Bay Area.