Written by Trevor Kraus with contributions from Alex Silverman
One of our favourite days on the NHL calender is the day the NHL calendar itself is released. As we all know, the league had some difficulty announcing the schedule and delayed it 2 days, missing its window to steal the spotlight in the States without any other major sporting events. Nevertheless, the second it came out, I started planning the roadtrips I’d take this year to see the Blues (Devils-Rangers-Isles in January? Yes, please. Dallas over Winter Break? Piece of cake). I’m one-third of the way to my goal of seeing the Blues play in every NHL arena. Naturally, I started with the easy ones like Chicago, Nashville, and Columbus, and I’ve gradually been branching out farther to Buffalo, Toronto, Long Island, etc. So when I use the term “roadtrip,” I no longer mean the 5-6 hour variety. I’m talking about day-long drives, and whenever possible, I’m trying to work in multiple games. That was my mindset when I put together itineraries for fans of all 30 NHL teams (assuming you’re living in the city your team calls home). Here are the first ten, alphabetically speaking, from Anaheim to Detroit.
1. All stats and maps are courtesy of RoadTrippers.com
2. Click on the map for any roadtrip to be redirected to the RoadTrippers page, where you can find out how to get where you’re going, what’s on the way, what detours can be made, etc.
Depart Anaheim: September 30
Return to Anaheim: October 10
Distance: 4,341 miles
Driving Time: 63 hours, 43 minutes
Games: 3 (plus a home game on the end)
This is an easy call. The best opportunity to see
Bobby Ryan Francois Beauchemin and company is right off the bat. Leave Anaheim the morning of Monday, September 30th, pass through Vegas and win the funding for the rest of the trip, then proceed to Denver to see Opening Night, October 2nd against the Avs. Spend the 3rd in the Rockies…it’s only 12 hours from Denver to Minneapolis, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore. Get to Minny by Saturday the 5th to see your Ducks take on the Wild. After all that, the six hours to Winnipeg will feel like nothing, and you’ll get to see and hear one of the league’s loudest barns the night of the Sixth against the Jets. It’s a bit of a hike back to Orange County from the Peg (29 hours), but you have until the Tenth to do it, when the Ducks host the Rags. This is an epic trip through some of the country’s most beautiful land. Well worth the two weeks off work/school.
Depart Boston: April 1
Return to Boston: April 5
Distance: 4,341 miles
Driving Time: 22 hours, 51 minutes
The east coast teams have it easy: most of them can take short train rides to their divisional games. But we’re assuming you Bruins fans have already been to New York, Philly, Washington, etc. So let’s see…how about an Original Six swing in April? Leave Boston on April Fool’s Day and get to Detroit for Bruins-Wings on Wednesday the 2nd. Stay in the D that night and help stimulate the local economy with some much-needed tourist money in Greektown, then get up on the Third and get to Toronto by that night for a rematch of that epic seven-game series. Toronto to Boston is an easy eight hours, and you’re back by the weekend. Quick and easy.
Depart Buffalo: March 6
Return to Buffalo: March 9
Distance: 2,842 miles
Driving Time: 42 hours, 16 minutes
The schedule doesn’t provide a ton of good choices for the Sabes, and the ones it does offer (like a Columbus-Pittsburgh trip) have most likely already been tackled by the passionate fans of the Swords. So what the hell, let’s dream big. Take off work/school early on Wednesday, March 6th, tell them you’re taking a long weekend, and head south for about 28 hours to Miami for Sabres-Lightning on the Sixth. Tampa to Miami is nothing, so get there for Sabres-Panthers on Friday the Seventh and party like a rockstar on South Beach that night and all day Saturday before heading back to Buffalo early Sunday morning, arriving in time for work/school on Monday morning.
Depart Calgary: January 18
Return to Calgary: January 22
Distance: 2,892 miles
Driving Time: 47 hours, 28 minutes
My goodness, do Flames fans have it tough. Not only is their team (finally) rebuilding, but they’re light years away from most other NHL cities. Luckily, the Canadian Rockies in January don’t pose a problem, so you should do the ten-hour drive early Saturday morning, January 18th, and see Flames-Canucks in Vancouver that night. Enjoy the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway on Sunday and get to Northern California by Monday in time to enjoy either some wine or silicon, then see Flames-Sharks before roughing it 20 hours back to Alberta on Tuesday.
Depart Raleigh: March 18
Return to Raleigh: March 23
Distance: 1,638 miles
Driving Time: 25 hours, 23 minutes
For our money, Cam Ward is the most underrated goalie in the league, so it’s essential that Canes fans to see him play as much as possible. This one’s really easy: leave Raleigh on Tuesday morning, March 18th and catch Canes-Blue Jackets that night. That drive’s only seven hours, and from Columbus to Chi Town is only 5, so you can get there by Wednesday afternoon. The Canes don’t play the Hawks until Friday the 21st, but trust me, you’ll find more than enough to do in Chicago to pass the time. See a comedy show at 2nd City, take a tour of Wrigley Field, explore the Art Institute of Chicago, and feast on some Chicago style hot dogs and Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza. Chicago back to Raleigh is only 12 hours, so you could leave on Saturday and get back in time to see second-round NCAA Tournament action in your fair city on Sunday the 23rd.
Depart Chicago: March 18
Return to Chicago: March 23
Distance: 1,788 miles
Driving Time: 26 hours, 39 minutes
If we were Blackhawks fans *shudder* we’d be licking our chops at this set up: a breezy 11 hours starting early Friday morning, March 28th into Ottawa to see this matchup of the only two teams whose logos feature a human being. Spend a day in the Canadian capital and then leave early Sunday the 30th to get to Pittsburgh eight hours later for what will probably be a high-scoring affair. Head west after the game and drive six hours through the night (remember, you’ll gain an hour going from ET to CST), knock back a couple of Monsters and be ready for school/work on Monday morning.
Depart Denver: November 21
Return to Denver: November 24
Distance: 2,234 miles
Driving Time: 32 hours, 35 minutes
By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, the Avs might very well already be out of playoff contention. But they’ll still be an exciting team to watch, and Phoenix weather is PERFECT in late November. Start the one-week countdown to Turkey Day by waking up early Thursday the 21st and rock down I-25 toward the Valley of the Sun (12 hours), arriving in time to see Avs-Coyotes. Be sure to assess if that whole four-year ordeal we endured was worth it to save hockey in Glendale. It’s a scant 5 hours from Phoenix to LA, so knock that out on Friday morning and take a tour of Tinsel Town, hopefully running into some C-lister who’s nice enough to take a picture with you. Or Taylor Stevens. It’s Avs-Kings on Saturday the 23rd, before a 14-hour ride back to Denver on Sunday.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Depart Columbus: March 8
Return to Columbus: March 11
Distance: 2,067 miles
Driving Time: 30 hours, 23 minutes
Remember way back when the BJ’s were in the Western Conference? Take a trip down memory lane and see the Jackets square off against two old Western Conference foes, Nashville and Dallas. Leave Columbus on Saturday, March 8 (only a five-hour drive) and see CBJ-NSH. Spend Sunday listening to country music, then leave early Monday morning on a nine-hour journey for Dallas and see the game that night. It’s only 15 back to Columbus on Tuesday, and you’ve only missed two days of work/school.
Depart Dallas: January 5
Return to Dallas: January 12
Distance: 3,132 miles
Driving Time: 46 hours, 32 minutes
Games: 3 (plus a home game at the end)
The Stars get the beautiful NYI-NJD-NYR triplet shortly after New Year’s. It’s 22 big ones from Dallas to NYC, but believe me: there’s nothing like being in the middle of it all, in New York City. It truly is the greatest city in the world, and if you’ve never been there, this is as good a chance as you’ll get. Tell your boss/teacher that your hangover was especially bad this year, and that you’ll need more than a week to recover. Leave North Texas on Sunday, January 5th and be on Long Island the night of the Sixth for Stars-Isles in the best arena in the league. We were there for the Isles’ first playoff game since 2007 this past year…raucous doesn’t even begin to describe it. The ghosts of Bossy, Trottier and Potvin are prevalent. Do absolutely everything you possibly can in NYC Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before hopping onto a New Jersey Transit train Thursday evening to Newark for a rematch of the 2000 Stanley Cup Final. Revel in the Jason Arnott and Jamie Langebrunner glory. Get back to the City on Friday and catch Stars-Rangers at the World’s Most Famous Arena. If you have any gas money left, use it to head back to Dallas on Saturday. If you fell in love with the Isles’ young stars, you can catch them again in Dallas on Sunday the 12th.
Detroit Red Wings
Depart Detroit: April 4
Return to Detroit: April 10
Distance: 1,449 miles
Driving Time: 22 hours, 18 minutes
Games: 3 (plus a home game to start off)
Mo Town finally got its wish to be moved into the Eastern Conference and, for roadtrip purposes, it’ll pay dividends early and often. This year’s trip is a three-game, two-country luxury cruise during the stretch run of the regular season. If the Wings have clinched already, you should probably be saving up for the Playoffs by this point, but if it’s a fight to the finish, this could be one of the best trips on the list. Catch the game against the Sabres at the Joe on April 4th, but make sure you have the car packed up beforehand. Once the buzzer sounds, hop in the car and drive eight-and-a-half hours over the border to Montreal, where you should arrive in the early morning. Get some rest and catch the Wings against the Habs at the Bell Center before a night out on the town. We hear visiting players like taking time to appreciate the, er, culture. Spend Sunday in Montreal before, at your leisure, making the six-hour drive back over the border to Buffalo. Make sure you come to this town with an empty stomach because Nacho Buffitos at Mighty Taco (trust us…), wings at Duffs and a hot dog at Ted’s are all mandatory activities. Head to the HSBC arena Tuesday night for Sabres/Wings. Leave early Wednesday for a night game against the Pens in Pittsburgh and if you leave right after the game, you can get a full night’s sleep back in Michigan before work Thursday morning.
Check back soon for Part 2 of our Road Trippin’ Guide, featuring…
Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, the Islanders, the Rangers and Ottawa.