Fan of Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas or Detroit?
By Trevor Kraus and Alex M. Silverman
Before we get into Part Two of our 2013-14 NHL Road Trippin’ guide, we feel it’s important to establish some rules of the roadtrip. For those experienced road warriors out there, feel free to go your own way, but if you’re thinking about taking your first taste of the open road, here are a few guidelines and tips:
1. NO FLYING! It’s not a ROADtrip if you’re in the air. Semantics aside, driving gives you the chance to control your own destiny: you stop where you want to stop, go where you want to go, bring what you want to bring and see what you want to see, all on your own schedule. You can really get a feel for these great nations by driving through what you might normally fly over.
2. Two-game minimum. We love the open road, but when you’re driving double-digit hours, you might as well cram in as much as you can, even if it means tacking on an extra day or two. It’s your one roadtrip of the season, you might as well make it worth your while.
3. No solo missions! Safety is a top priority here and driving halfway across the country by yourself is far from safe. Bring a few friends, split up the driving, rotate who’s sleeping/driving/navigating.
4. Be prepared. We’re not just talking about snacks here, although we’ve spent many hours debating about the ultimate roadtrip food. There are a few things you oughta be equipped with for a long drive through unfamiliar territory: an accident-prevention deer whistle (Don’t learn this the hard way…it’s not a guarantee, but it costs $5.95 to potentially avoid some serious shit), sunglasses, an iPod hookup/Satellite Radio/a binder full of CDs, car charger for your cell phone and a GPS, to name a few. Just take a few minutes to think about what you might need before you leave home.
5. Minimal fluids. Nothing gets in the way of making good time like constant bathroom breaks. Keep a bottle of water and an energy drink on hand, but indulge sparingly.
Got any more roadtrip tips? Post in the comments and we’ll share them in Part 3!
Now that that’s outta the way…
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 Edmonton: December 13
Return to Edmonton: December 21
Distance: 4,301 miles
Driving Time: 65 hours, 49 minutes
Games: 4 (plus a home game on the end)
And we thought Calgary posed a problem…Edmonton is even further removed from the rest of the NHL, although at long last, the team might be worth traveling to see this year. This one will take some creativity and determination, but stick with the plan and you’ll have the trip of a lifetime. Start on early Friday morning, December 13th toward Vancouver and taunt Luongo that night as Taylor Hall nets two goals and two assists. Rest up after the game though, because you’ve got a 19-hour drive south to Anaheim, and you gotta get there by Sunday night if you want to heckle Ducks fans — in their own building, no less — about how much they could use Justin Schultz. Don’t be surprised if you get “Playoffs” or “Scoreboard” thrown back in your face. You’ve got all of Monday and Tuesday to hang out in LA because Tuesday night, it’s the Wayne Gretzky Bowl between the Oilers and Kings at the Staples Center. Take your sweet time moseying along to Denver (passing through Vegas, if you’re feeling lucky) and get there by Thursday night, the 19th. The Avs and the Oilers are two teams with gobs of young forward talent and little to no defense or goaltending, so hopefully you took the “over” in Vegas. A mere 18 hours later and you’re back in Edmonton, where you can see David Perron face his former team on Hockey Night in Canada on the 21st, if you’ve got any gas left in the tank (see what we did there?).
Depart Fort Lauderdale: December 14
Return to Fort Lauderale: December 21
Distance: 3,798 miles
Driving Time: 56 hours, 6 minutes
Luckily for Panthers fans, we had 48 bonus hours to plan a road trip, since their schedule was leaked well in advance of the rest of the league’s. Anyway, this trip is an opportunity to test the “snowbirds” theory: older Canadian hockey fans move down to warmer climates in Florida and Phoenix for the winter, and it’s these folks who make up a good percentage of Florida’s fanbase. We’re not buying it, but prove us wrong Panthers fans. Here’s how: leave Ft. Lauderdale in the early morning on Saturday, December 14th and head straight up iconic I-95, switch to I-87 in New York, and take that to Montreal, the most hockey-crazed city on the planet. Check out the Universite de Montreal and drop in on the Religion and the Montreal Canadiens course (which most likely meets on Sundays after church) and take good notes. See the Habs and Panthers, then spend a day in Toronto, the second-most hockey-crazed city on the planet and see Leafs-Panthers the night of the 17th. You’ll have to backtrack somewhat to Ottawa for the game on the 19th, but with the Panthers in first place and on an 8-game winning streak at this point, you’re going all out. As great as it would be to work in a fourth Canadian city, it is physically impossible to get from Ottawa to Winnipeg by puck drop the next night by car, so catch the game on the radio as you roll back into South Florida for the weekend.
Los Angeles Kings
Depart Los Angeles: December 30
Return to Los Angeles: January 4
Distance: 3,864 miles
Driving Time: 55 hours, 46 minutes
Assuming Kings fans have already crossed the Honda Center, Shark Tank and Jobing.com off their bucket lists, the only remaining building of the old Pacific Division is the American Airlines Center in Dallas, where the Kings play the Stars on New Year’s Eve. Leave LA on the 30th to get to Dallas by the 31st. After the game, drink to your heart’s content at the self-proclaimed largest New Year’s celebration in the Central Time Zone (!), sleep in and watch the Winter Classic on TV on the First. Get up early on the Second to drive 9 hours north to St. Louis. If the last 2 playoff series between the Kings and Blues are any indication, you needn’t worry about picking up those two points (though they play strikingly similar styles). Crash at my place in suburban STL (open invitation for a sweet air mattress, Puckheads) after the game and then get 26 hours worth of kicks on Route 66, back to LA.
Depart Minneapolis/St. Paul: December 18
Return to Minneapolis/St. Paul: December 25
Distance: 2,481 miles
Driving Time: 38 hours, 12 minutes
Ryan Suter and Zach Parise are going to play major roles on the U.S. Olympic team. But first, they’ll get a chance to show what they can do in three of the most significant American hockey markets in mid-December. And you, dear Wild fan, will be at all three games. Leave the Twin Cities on Wednesday, December 18th and catch Wild-Pens in the Steel City the next night. Drive to New York City on the 20th and spend all day on the 21st in the Greatest City in the World. The Wild play the Rangers on the 22nd in midtown Manhattan. The next morning, drive down to Philly and see where the Declaration of Independence was signed before you watch your team put up a six-spot on whichever netminder has survived two whole months in that goalie black hole. It’s only 17 hours back to Minneapolis, so you’re back by Wednesday at the latest.
Depart Montreal: December 16
Return to Montreal: December 24
Distance: 1,555 miles
Driving Time: 24 hours, 3 minutes
We’ve already established how passionate Habs fans are, so we could easily send them 41 hours cross-continent to LA, Anaheim, and Phoenix in March…and they’d do it. But the schedule makers gave them the ideal set up: Ottawa, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and back, January 16th-24th. There’s a minor detour around Lake Eerie, but otherwise, this map is a thing of beauty. In fact it’s almost too easy on these die-hards! That said, if last year is any indication, this could be a tough stretch of games for any team.
Depart Nashville: December 5
Return to Nashville: December 11
Distance: 1,761 miles
Driving Time: 26 hours, 37 minutes
Although Nashville was a prime candidate to move to the Eastern Conference into a division with Tampa, Florida, Carolina, and Washington, we ended up with the *sigh* Metropolitan Division. But early December gives the Preds a cool little east coast swing through two great cities. Leave Loudville on Friday, December 5th and get into DC in time to go out on the town that night. See Alex Ovechkin’s crew try to score on Pekka Rinne Saturday night, then see some sights on Sunday before driving north to New York City. You’ll have all day Monday to explore and all day Tuesday to sleep before Preds-Rags Tuesday night. Leave right after the game, pick up an hour going from eastern time to central, and be ready for work/school on Wednesday the 11th.
New Jersey Devils
Depart New Jersey: December 9
Return to New Jersey: December 14
Distance: 1,061 miles
Driving Time: 16 hours, 34 minutes
While Preds fans are having the time of their lives on the road, Devils fans will be preparing for a two-game trip of their own. Somehow drag yourself away from the fresh air and wonderful
odor aroma of the Garden State on Monday, December 9th and get to Columbus by the 10th, to see if Sergei Bobrovsky is the real deal. The Devils don’t play the Pens until Friday the 13th, so take your time in Ohio; check out Cleveland and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, or Canton’s Pro Football Hall of Fame. Pittsburgh’s right on your way back to New Jersey, so stop there to see the game on Friday night, then survive the Pennsylvania Turnpike (ed. note: Godspeed to you) to get back home.
New York Islanders
Depart Long Island: October 10
Return to Long Island: October 14
Distance: 2,189 miles
Driving Time: 32 hours, 59 minutes
Games: 2 (with one “road” + two home games beforehand and four home games to follow)
After a promising showing against the top-seeded Penguins in the 2013 Playoffs, Isles fans finally have reason to be pumped for the start of a season. Well, Isles fans…what if we told you that it would only take one missed day of work/school for you to be at your team’s first NINE games? The Islanders open up on October 4th in Newark against the Devils, which we won’t even count as a trip since it’s just a short train ride away. After that, six of Tavares and Co.’s next eight are at the Coliseum. Head to Chicago and Nashville and you can see the opening run of what could be the Isles’ best season in two decades. Leave Long Island after work on Thursday the Tenth for the Windy City and you’ll easily be there by lunchtime Friday. Grab a hot dog at Portillo’s or deep dish at Lou Malnati’s before heading to the U.C. to see the Isles take on the defending Cup champs. After the game, stalk Patrick Kane to see where he’s partying that night and, realizing you don’t have the choice between Kaner and TS19, try to ride his coattails. Wherever you wake up the next morning, do it early, because it’s a seven-hour drive to Nashville for a Saturday night game against Seth Jones and the Predators. Get some sleep for Sundays 13-hour haul back to the Island. Not only will you be back for work Monday, but you can catch the Isles four more times at NVMC before they hit the road again!
New York Rangers
Depart New York: March 12
Return to New York: March 17
Distance: 3,286 miles
Driving Time: 49 hours, 56 minutes
After a NINE game roadie to start the season thanks to the renovation of a building that’s on the verge of being torn down, Alain Vigneault’s boys have limited road trip opportunities, especially since most of their road games don’t qualify as road trips. So, we’re sending Rangers fans out to Minneapolis and Winnipeg in March. You’ll leave New York the morning of Wednesday, March 12th, grab a dog in Chicago with everything on it, and get to Minneapolis in time to see the game the night of the 13th. It’s a back-to-back, so wake up the next day and drive to Winnipeg. Sleep in on Saturday, because it’s 25 hours, with another stop in Chicago for deep dish this time, and then back to the City That Never Sleeps.
Depart Ottawa: January 20
Return to Ottawa: January 25
Distance: 2,919 miles
Driving Time: 44 hours, 3 minutes
Unfortunately, the first chance Senators fans have to see Daniel Alfredsson is a one-game trip to Detroit, and we’re not counting that as a road trip. So, on Monday, January 20th, head from Canada’s capital to the U.S.’s capital and see Bobby Ryan and the boys against Ovechkin and his Caps on the 21st. Continue down the east coast toward Tampa, where the Sens face the Lightning on Thursday the 23rd. There’s no rest for the weary, though, as the next night is Sens-Canes in Raleigh, 9 hours north of Tampa. But that’s right on your way home anyway. From there, it’s only 12 hours back to Ottawa.
Check back for Part 3 of our Road Trippin’ Guide, featuring…
Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Jose, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington and Winnipeg