ROAD TRIPPIN’: PART 3 OF YOUR TEAM-BY-TEAM GUIDE TO 2013-14′S BEST NHL ADVENTURES

In case you missed it, check out Part One and Part Two of our 2013-14 NHL Road Trippin’ guide.

Despite a not-so-brief work-related detour, we’ve arrived at the third and final installment of our 2013-14 NHL Road Trippin’ guide. Needless to say, we’re starting to feel like our Hockey Falls predecessors:

Nevertheless, we have soldiered on and planned itineraries for the patient fans of the late-in-the-alphabet teams (no, that’s not one of Bettman’s new divisions). If you’re new to the series, be sure to check out our Rules of the Roadtrip, which has some helpful tips you oughta read before you hit the road.

And while we’re here, we’d like to wish our fellow Puckheads luck surviving August, which everyone knows is a hockey fan’s most devastating month on the calendar. It’s that time between free agency and training camp that just makes us squirm. Keep coming back to Hockey Falls, as we’ll be doing our best to help you through this dark time. See you on the other side.

Philadelphia Flyers

Depart Philly: January 12

Return to Philly: January 15

Flyers Roadtrip

Distance: 865 miles

Gas: $148

Driving Time: 14 hours, 1 minute

Games: 2

Want to see a lot of goals? Don’t care which net they end up in? Then, dear Flyers fan, this trip is for you! A thin blue line and laughable goaltending tandem shouldn’t stop Flyers fans from catching a couple of games in the Empire State this January. On Sunday, January 12th, drive up to New York City for a Metropolitan (!?!?) Division rivalry game between the Rangers and Flyers. Spend Monday in NYC, then wake up early on Tuesday and make the journey out to Buffalo for the game that night. Fill up on wings before heading back to Philly on Wednesday.

Phoenix Coyotes

Depart Phoenix: November 2

Return to Phoenix: November 7

Yotes Roadtrip

Distance: 1422 miles

Gas: $244

Driving Time: 20 hours, 48 minutes

Games: 2

Hello….is there anybody in there? If there happen to be any of those mythical creatures called Coyotes fans reading, have we got a trip for you! It starts early in the morning on Saturday, November 2nd, when you’ll head to San Jose to see the best looking hockey player in the league.  Wait, he doesn’t play for them anymore? Well, if driving 10 hours to see a mere hockey game still sounds enticing, catch the game that night and then spend the next 3 days enjoying beautiful California, from the north to the south before you see Coyotes-Ducks on Wednesday the 6th in Anaheim. Head back home after the game and hope the team hasn’t lost another owner while you were in the car.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Depart Pittsburgh: April 30

Return to Pittsburgh: May 5

Pens Roadtrip

Distance: 1480 miles

Gas: $254

Driving Time: 22 hours, 7 minutes

Games: 2 (1 outdoor/1 indoor)

One of the perks of rooting for Sidney Crosby’s team — other than, you know, watching Sidney Crosby — is that your club gets to take part in all the cool stuff the league does. Such is the case on Saturday, March 1st, when the Pens will play the defending Cup champs at Soldier Field in Chicago. If you’re a Pens fan, make sure you don’t miss that one, and as long as you’re there, you might as well dart south to see Pens-Preds in Nashville on the 4th before heading back to the three rivers after the game.

San Jose Sharks

Depart San Jose: April 30

Return to San Jose: May 5

Sharks Roadtrip

Distance: 2892 miles

Gas: $496

Driving Time: 47 hours, 28 minutes

Games: 2

Unfortunately, the good people making the NHL schedule didn’t have Sharks fans in mind when they put together this year’s edition. The Sharks will travel more miles in 2013-14 than any other NHL team, and unlike you, they’re stuck on cushy, lavish charter jets instead of enjoying the open road. There’s no  simple LA-ANA-PHX stretch, so instead, we’re sending Sharks fans up north. If you leave on Monday, November 11th in the morning, you’ll get to Calgary by the next night and get to see the Yotes and Flames play in a game you’ll surely hear about on ESPN the next morning. You’ll have all of the 13th to drive to Vancouver and enjoy the beautiful Canadian landscape before Sharks-Canucks on the 14th. You could go back to Edmonton for the next night, but since you’ll already be right near the U.S. border, just head home and watch it on TV in San Jose.

St. Louis Blues

Depart St. Louis: March 19

Return to St. Louis: March 24

Blues Roadtrip

Distance: 1948 miles

Gas: $334

Driving Time: 29 hours, 45 minutes

Games: 3

The Blues get that awesome New York triplet of games, (and that’s one I’ll be doing for sure), but since we’ve already used that setup in our guides, we’ll get more creative here. For example, on Wednesday, March 19th, you could go see the Blues and Blackhawks rekindle an always-fun rivalry. Since you’re already in that direction, keep going east and be in Philly the night of Saturday, March 22nd to see two 1967 expansion teams in a matinee. Just 21 hours after the game ends, the Blues are in Pittsburgh to play the Pens, yet another 1967 matchup. If you hustle, you can get back to St. Louis by the wee hours of Monday morning and load up on caffeine to get through the day at work or school.

***Bonus road trip: If you’re willing and able to miss Thanksgiving with the family in exchange for a crazy week of driving, listen up: Leave St. Louis on Tuesday, November 26th for Denver to see Blues-Avs the next night. Continue westward, stop at a grocery store and grab a turkey sandwich on Thursday, and get to San Jose for Friday night, the 29th. It’s Blues-Sharks On Sunday, December 1st, the Rams play the 49ers just across the Bay in San Francisco. Stick around for that game, then head south to Los Angeles for Blues-Kings on Monday. It’s a full day’s drive back to St. Louis, but after 3 hockey games and a football game, your adrenaline will be pumping enough to get you home.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Depart Tampa: February 27

Return to Tampa: March 2
Lightning Roadtrip

Distance: 2457 miles

Gas: $422

Driving Time: 35 hours, 50 minutes

Games: 2

Right after the Olympic break, on Thursday, February 27th, the Bolts head to Nashville to take on the Preds. After enduring 3 whole weeks without NHL hockey, get back to the game you love (and the team that, by this point in the year, you probably hate) in style by making the 10-hour drive, with a stop in Atlanta if you’ve never been to The Varsity or feel like investigating the farfetched myth that there was once a hockey team that played there (wait, that happened?). See the game that night, then take your sweet time drifting through Memphis and Little Rock on the way to Dallas, for Lightning-Stars on Saturday, March 1st. Hug the Gulf Coast on the way back to Dallas. You’ll get there by Sunday evening if you leave after the game.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Depart Toronto: January 8

Return to Toronto: January 11

Screen shot 2013-07-31 at 10.45.48 PM

Distance: 1461 miles

Gas: $251

Driving Time: 25 hours, 5 minutes

Games: 2

A pretty easy, long-weekend road trip for the Leafs, as long as their fans haven’t rioted and killed Dave Nonis by the time January 9th rolls around. That’s when the Leafs square off against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, only a 12 hour drive south. The next night, Friday the 10th, the Leafs are in DC, which is right on the way back to Toronto.

Vancouver Canucks

Depart Vancouver: January 11

Return to Vancouver: January 18

Screen shot 2013-07-31 at 11.02.53 PM

Distance: 3179 miles

Gas: $545

Driving Time: 48 hours, 34 minutes

Games: 3

Canucks fans get to take a trip to Southern California and Arizona in mid-January. Leave on Sunday, January 11th and head down the Pacific Coast to Los Angeles, for an early litmus test in the Western Conference against the Kings on the 12th. If the Sedin Sisters can’t get the job done at Staples, we advise you refrain from rioting; the LAPD won’t let that shit fly. Moving on, the ‘Nucks get the Ducks on Wednesday the 15th at Arrowhead Pond the Honda Center *sigh* and then play the Coyotes in Phoenix the next night. Gird your loins right after the game for a 23-hour hike through Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington to get back home. Or, if you’d rather extend your bender vacation, stop in Sin City on the way back. But word of advice: no matter how well you think you know hockey, DO NOT parlay NHL games…you have been warned.

Washington Capitals

Depart D.C.: January 24

Return to D.C.: February 1

Screen shot 2013-07-31 at 11.37.33 PM

Distance: 2023 miles

Gas: $347

Driving Time: 31 hours, 43 minutes

Games: 5

This five-city tour might be the best of the bunch, fitting for followers of the defending Hart Trophy winner. Believe it or not, you won’t rack up too many miles even while following your team around like some dirty hippies on Phish tour. Leave the District of Columbia on the morning of Friday, January 24th and head to the New Jersey to catch Caps-Devils at the Rock. Hit the Jersey Turnpike and head due North to Montreal, where you’ll catch Les Habitants à Centre Bell. Spend the rest of the weekend in Montreal, which we hear is one of the most gorgeous cities in the league, before making your way back across the border to Buffalo. The Caps and Sabres face off on Tuesday the 28th. Stock up on Mighty Taco for the rest of your trip before making a move to Ohio. Be there by Thursday the 30th to see Gaborik, Dubinsky, Anisimov and the rest of the Rangers BJs fire a cannon, or something. Early Friday morning, make the three-hour trip from Columbus to Detroit, where the Caps will cap off their roadtrip at the Joe, where “Rocking your Red” will probably be counterproductive. The trip home to D.C. from Detroit will be the longest leg of the trip, coming in at a shade under eight hours.

Winnipeg Jets

Depart Winnipeg: November 24

Return to Winnipeg: December 3

Screen shot 2013-07-31 at 11.41.30 PM

Last but not least, the Jets. Not a ton of travel options for fans in the ‘Peg, but old reliable, the New York triplet, is on the table, and it’s too good an opportunity to miss. It’s 25 hours from Winnipeg to Newark, so leave on Sunday, November 24th and get to The Prudential Center by the 25th. You’ll have all day Tuesday Wednesday to hang out in New York City before heading out to Long Island the night of the 27th. You’re Canadian, so you won’t be missing Thanksgiving the next night, and while we Americans are busy stuffing our faces (as per usual), you can head to Philly for a night on the town. It’s Jets-Flyers on Friday the 29th. Saturday and Sunday are free to spend either in Philly or back in NYC, as the Jets play the Rangers on Monday, December 2nd. That’s 4 games and a lifetime of memories made (and forgotten) in 2 of the best cities in the world. Head back to Winnipeg on Tuesday the 3rd.

Distance: 3534 miles

Gas: $606

Driving Time: 54 hours, 18 minutes

Games: 4

Well, that’s all folks. Enjoy the Open Ride and don’t hesitate to make a pit stop in Hockey Falls if you find yourself in the neighborhood. We’ll bring the beers.

ROAD TRIPPIN’: PART 2 OF YOUR TEAM-BY-TEAM GUIDE TO 2013-14′S BEST NHL ADVENTURES


Fan of Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas or Detroit?

Check out Part One of our three-part Road Trippin’ guide to find out where Hockey Falls is sending you this season!

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…

Quick Notes:

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.

Edmonton Oilers

Depart Edmonton: December 13

Return to Edmonton: December 21

Oilers Roadtrip

Distance: 4,301 miles

Gas: $738

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?).

Florida Panthers

Depart Fort Lauderdale: December 14

Return to Fort Lauderale: December 21

Panthers Roadtrip

Distance: 3,798 miles

Gas: $652

Driving Time: 56 hours, 6 minutes

Games: 3

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

Kings Roadtrip

Distance: 3,864 miles

Gas: $663

Driving Time: 55 hours, 46 minutes

Games: 2

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.

Minnesota Wild

Depart Minneapolis/St. Paul: December 18

Return to Minneapolis/St. Paul: December 25

Wild Roadtrip

Distance: 2,481 miles

Gas: $426

Driving Time: 38 hours, 12 minutes

Games: 3

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.

Montreal Canadiens

Depart Montreal: December 16

Return to Montreal: December 24

Habs Roadtrip

Distance: 1,555 miles

Gas: $267

Driving Time: 24 hours, 3 minutes

Games: 4

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.

Nashville Predators

Depart Nashville: December 5

Return to Nashville: December 11

Preds Roadtrip

Distance: 1,761 miles

Gas: $302

Driving Time: 26 hours, 37 minutes

Games: 2

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

Devils Roadtrip

Distance: 1,061 miles

Gas: $182

Driving Time: 16 hours, 34 minutes

Games: 2

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

Isles Roadtrip

Distance: 2,189 miles

Gas: $376

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

Rangers Roadtrip

Distance: 3,286 miles

Gas: $564

Driving Time: 49 hours, 56 minutes

Games: 2

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.

Ottawa Senators

Depart Ottawa: January 20

Return to Ottawa: January 25

Sens Roadtrip

Distance: 2,919 miles

Gas: $501

Driving Time: 44 hours, 3 minutes

Games: 3

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

Road Trippin’: Part 1 of Your Team-by-Team Guide to 2013-14’s Best NHL Adventures

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.

Quick Notes:

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.

Anaheim Ducks

Depart Anaheim: September 30

Return to Anaheim: October 10

Ducks Roadtrip

Distance: 4,341 miles

Gas: $745

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.

Boston Bruins

Depart Boston: April 1

Return to Boston: April 5

Bruins Roadtrip

Distance: 4,341 miles

Gas: $253

Driving Time: 22 hours, 51 minutes

Games: 2

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.

Buffalo Sabres

Depart Buffalo: March 6

Return to Buffalo: March 9

Sabres Roadtrip

Distance: 2,842 miles

Gas: $488

Driving Time: 42 hours, 16 minutes

Games: 2

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.

Calgary Flames

Depart Calgary: January 18

Return to Calgary: January 22

Flames Roadtrip

Distance: 2,892 miles

Gas: $496

Driving Time: 47 hours, 28 minutes

Games: 2

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.

Carolina Hurricanes

Depart Raleigh: March 18

Return to Raleigh: March 23

Hurricanes Roadtrip

Distance: 1,638 miles

Gas: $281

Driving Time: 25 hours, 23 minutes

Games: 2

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.

Chicago Blackhawks

Depart Chicago: March 18

Return to Chicago: March 23

Blackhawks Roadtrip

Distance: 1,788 miles

Gas: $307

Driving Time: 26 hours, 39 minutes

Games: 2

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.

Colorado Avalanche

Depart Denver: November 21

Return to Denver: November 24

Avalanche Roadtrip

Distance: 2,234 miles

Gas: $383

Driving Time: 32 hours, 35 minutes

Games: 2

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

BJs Roadtrip

Distance: 2,067 miles

Gas: $355

Driving Time: 30 hours, 23 minutes

Games: 2

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.

Dallas Stars

Depart Dallas: January 5

Return to Dallas: January 12

Stars Roadtrip

Distance: 3,132 miles

Gas: $537

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

Wings Roadtrip

Distance: 1,449 miles

Gas: $249

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.

Hockey Falls Names the Realigned NHL Divisions (UPDATE: League goes with ‘Metropolitan’ instead)

The team logos above the stage at the 2013 NHL are arranged based on the league’s new divisions, beginning in the ’13-’14 season.

Written by Trevor Kraus, Joey Naftol and Alex Silverman

From 1981-1993, the NHL playoffs opened with two divisional rounds to crown the champion of the Patrick, Adams, Norris and Smythe divisions prior to determining the top team from each conference and, ultimately, the Stanley Cup champion. From 1994-2012, divisions were meaningless other than the fact that the division winners were automatically seeded in the top 3 in each conference. With realignment on the horizon for the ’13-’14 season, divisional playoffs will return.

But just two and a half months away from the opening faceoff, the four divisions remain nameless. Commissioner Gary Bettman has stated that the divisions will likely be named geographically, but with one division containing teams from Canada, the Northeastern United States and Florida, it seems impossible to come up with anything sensible based on location. Here at Hockey Falls, we’ve been talking over some cold ones (Molsons…always Molsons) and tossing around some themes and names for the NHL’s new divisions.

Kickin’ it Old School: Patrick, Adams, Norris, Smythe

Traditionalist that I am, I’d be THRILLED if the league went this route. I’m too young to have watched a Norris Division matchup, but I know my dad would’ve smiled at the thought of the Blues raising another Norris Division Championship banner. Moreover, the Norris (along with the other divisions) developed its own identity, one that “Central” never captured or conveyed. The “Chuck” Norris Division had a reputation as brutal, bruising, bloody, all-out-war hockey. Wayne Gretzky’s Smythe Division featured a more open, finesse style. So, when the winners of those divisions squared off in the Campbell Conference Final, you were almost assured of seeing contrasting styles, which always makes for interesting hockey.

Each division having its own identity is a good thing for the league. For another reason, one need only look at college sports, where each conference develops its own identity. In college basketball, for example, when your team gets knocked out of the NCAA Tournament, it’s customary to root for the other teams in your conference to add legitimacy to your own team’s reputation. Of course, you can still do that with Central, Atlantic, etc. But even though I’m a diehard hockey fan, I follow the Blues most closely. So sometimes I’d have to strain to remember who was the 5th team in the Northeast Division…because ALL those teams (Boston, New York, Philly, Toronto, Montreal) are, geographically, in the Northeast. Likewise, I’m not sure every Boston Bruins fan could correctly place Vancouver in the Northwest Division instead of the Pacific…because Vancouver is most certainly on the Pacific.

While that argument could be applied to just about any non-geographic denomination, above all, what Smythe, Norris, Patrick, and Adams have going for them is the power of nostalgia. There are plenty of old-time hockey fans out there who’ve been turned off by the lockout. Or the other lockout. Or that most recent lockout. Reconnecting to hockey’s past certainly wouldn’t turn away any new fans, and it might help bring back some old ones.

Modern Legends: Gretzky, Hull (both of them), Orr, Lemieux

I think this denomination is the most likely. Again, it offers a connection to hockey’s past, but in a more concrete way. All of these players are still alive, but their places in today’s game need to be more prevalent and more defined. Since his departure from the Phoenix Coyotes, for example, Gretzky has virtually gone AWOL, and is without a role in the modern NHL. Renaming the division with his Oilers after him could help bring him back. His face and his presence are needed in the game. Picture this: the Oilers (or the Ducks, the Sharks…whoever) advance to the Stanley Cup Final, and The Great One is one ice to award them the Campbell Bowl. Or if the Jets (or Stars/Blackhawks/Blues/Wild/etc.) go to the Final, you have Bobby and Brett Hull award the Bowl.

There’s one concern I can see fans raising: how would the Flyers feel about competing for the Lemieux Division Title, after Super Mario did things like this to them? Would Habs fans want Bobby Orr presenting them the Prince of Wales Trophy after he tortured them throughout most of his career? In response, I say to those fan bases: Suck. It. Up. Respect greatness. These guys are no longer scoring against your teams, and it’s not like they were agitators on the ice anyway.

Geography: West, Central…well, let us explain:

(Courtesy NHL/NPR)

As we mentioned in the open, geographic names for the new divisions is trickier than it should be. So let’s start with the easy ones. The western-most division – the teams from the current Pacific division, minus Dallas, plus Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary – would be known simply as the “Western Division.” It might sound weird considering “Western” was previously the name of a conference, but it’s the most accurate geographic designation to describe locations that include Arizona, California, British Columbia and Alberta. “Pacific” can’t stick around because, according to someone else’s calculations, Edmonton is more than 4,000 miles from the ocean.

The next division over – the current Central division plus Colorado, Dallas and finally accom

modated Winnipeg – would maintain its “Central” designation. Let’s skip the one the NHL has temporarily called Division C and get the easy stuff out of the way. The current Atlantic Division – plus Carolina, Columbus and Washington – could either stick with “Atlantic” or go with the slightly more controversial “Middle East.” Look at that map and tell me those teams aren’t in the middle of the East. Plus, with rivalries like Philly-Pittsburgh, Islanders-Rangers, Pittsburgh-Washington and Rangers-Devils to name a few, there fittingly won’t be peace in the Middle East anytime soon.

And finally, to the crux of the issue: Bettman just had to take the current Northeast Division plus Detroit and then force the two Florida teams in there like a square peg into a round hole. If we really want to pretend this is a legitimate geographical entity, we might use something like “Eastern Division” because that’s pretty much all these seven locations have in common. But the NHL might as well embrace its goofy divisional structure with one of the following names:

  • The Flortheast Division
  • The “Damn-Those-Non-Traditional-Hockey-Markets” Division
  • The Snowbirds Division (or the related “Fly-South-For-The-Winter” Division”)
  • The Flanadian Division
  • The Flandetada Division/The Candetida Division

We could probably do this all day, but you get the point. Steer clear of geography, Bettman!

A Sad Reality: The Centers for Disease Control Anti-Smoking Division, The Nicklas Backstrom 15-Goal Geico Division, The Amway Divison, The Westside Furniture Division

The sad, sad, heartbreakingly sad truth: everything in sports is becoming commercialized. Only 3 arenas don’t have corporate names: The Joe, Madison Square Garden, and the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. McDonald’s has infiltrated the Kings’ practice jerseys, and it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing ads on game jerseys, like in Europe. So why not go all the way? We already had to sit through the horrifying CDC anti-smoking ads during the playoffs, so hopefully by now, we’re desensitized to the sound of Terrie’s voice. The NHL has proven its progressive mindset with the “You Can Play” campaign, and it wouldn’t hurt the league’s image to jump out in front of the anti-smoking wave and lead the charge. The “CDC-ASD Division” would be the one including the Blackhawks, Blues, Stars, Wild, Jets, Avs and Predators.

My god, were those Nicklas Backstrom Geico commercials stupid. And how did Geico end up choosing Backstrom, of all people, as the face of their campaign? Sure, he’s a good player, but was there no one more noteworthy available? Nevertheless, he’d gain instant rockstar status as the only man ever to win his own division. The only question: Can he “make” 15 goals every year for the rest of his career? Of course he can.

The “Amway Division” would be the one the Detroit Red Wings occupy…because the Wings already have an “historic” relationship with Amway. Because it’s the NHL, any good will it earns from coming out against smoking has to be given back. And what better way to do that than by accepting money from a pyramid scheme? Or as Harvard calls it, a “pyramid-like distribution system.”

Finally, we have the “Westside Furniture Division”. Never heard of Westside Furniture? Neither have most hockey fans. But as we found out on July 2nd, the city of Glendale is broke and can barely afford to pay its police officers and firefighters. Yet, there’s still an NHL team there, and in true Gary Bettman fashion, the league is going to do absolutely everything in its power to make sure the team stays there. Hence the worldwide shout-out to Westside Furniture, located at 7029 N. 57th Drive, Glendale AZ, 85301. The new name will infuse Glendale with some much needed cash, and no hockey fan will ever again be in need of rustic, southwest, old-world, contemporary oak furniture and accessories. It’s a win-win!

Classic American Cinema: Youngblood, Slapshot, Mystery, Alaska, Mighty Ducks

Paying homage to arguably the four greatest hockey films of all time would be a great way to connect the newly realigned divisions to the game’s pop culture landmarks. The “Classic American Cinema” names embody the niche aspect that die-hard puck-heads embrace. Hockey fans are a unique breed of human and are the only ones who would watch these movies every time they show up on an HBO channel.

The “Youngblood Division” would consist of Midwestern teams – the Blackhawks, Wild, Blues, etc. – because what better represents the middle of our country than undersized speedster Rob Lowe learning how to fight for success through a montage-style training session with Pat Swayze, seriously?

The “Mighty Ducks Division” would be home of the Pacific Coast teams even though the original, D1, took place in Minnesota. However, D2’s Goodwill Games did go down in LA, where the team also learned how to play hockey, street style. Obviously the no-longer-mighty Ducks would compete in this division and, oddly enough, their current roster seems to reflect shades of those Bombay squads of the past: a Goaltending controversy between Victor “the cat” Fasth and Jonas “definitely not Jewish” Hiller, a combination of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry which equals Adam Banks and Cam Fowler as the Charlie Spazzway of the team.

The “Mystery, Alaska Division” would carry the Northeast plus the Florida teams. Think about it: It’s really cold in the northeast, and the Lightning and Panthers are overlooked by the rest of the league just as the state of Alaska is overlooked by the rest of the U.S. This assortment of teams lacks any geographical sense: it’s a mystery what they have in common and they might as well be in Alaska compared to one another. This name also works because the Lightning and Panthers have the same chance of competing against their far superior opponents as Mystery, Alaska’s amateur hockey team had going up against the Rangers; but they play the game for a reason, folks.

Finally the “Slapshot Division” would take over for the Atlantic plus Columbus, Carolina and Washington division. Since Slapshot is the lone comedy on the list, it’s the division that has, hands down, the group of teams with the most hilarious story lines: the Flyers’ salary cap management, Marc Andre Fleury in late April, Alexander Ovechkin winning the Hart last year, Bobrovsky joining the force and the Islanders, to name a few. Just like the Mighty Ducks Division, there’s a handful of similarities to players in the Slapshot division. Obviously the Schenn bros in Philly or the Staal bros in Carolina represent the Hansen brothers, one could argue that Ned Brayden was Sidney Crosby before Sidney Crosby with the whole refusing to fight and get dirty thing, and hopefully Ilya Bryzgalov stays within the division because he would be the perfect Denis Lemieux.

So there you have it: the NHL has quite a few options. Now lets see how Bettman screws it up. (UPDATE: Like this: Pacific, Central, Atlantic and Metropolitan)

Why the NHL All-Star game will never be as entertaining as the MLB’s

Don’t forget to share your opinion of the NHL All-Star Game in our poll below!

Hockey > Baseball. Don’t think I’ve changed my philosophy on that; such a notion is grounds for tarring and feathering in Hockey Falls.

But even I’ll admit there’s one thing that baseball can hold over hockey (other than financials and the whole National Pastime thing it has going): its All-Star Game. Tuesday’s 3-0 victory for the American League at Citi Field, which featured a hometown starting pitcher in the Mets’ Matt Harvey and a touching tribute to legendary Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera, had me captivated from start to finish in a way the NHL All-Star Game never has.

Level of Play

The MLB’s version feels like a real baseball game, something the NHL will never manage to capture. Hockey is an inherently physical sport, meaning that in an exhibition involving the league’s most skilled players, the game has to be toned down to preserve player safety. That means no checking or playing the body, which translates into next to no defense. It doesn’t look or feel like NHL hockey and doesn’t capture the sport anywhere near its best.

Baseball players, on the other hand, can treat the All-Star Game like a competitive event without jeopardizing their seasons. As a result, fans get to see the best players performing at a high level, capturing the game of baseball at its peak. It’s the best hitters against the best pitchers with both sides giving it their all. The use of a whole pitching staff and bench only makes the game more interesting; it’s incredible the pressure managers face trying to give everyone their All-Star moments while also playing to win.

Uniforms

The baseball tradition of each player wearing his respective ball club’s uniform is fantastic. There’s something exciting about seeing a player from your favorite team representing that organization by wearing its colors. Meanwhile the wide array of different uniforms makes for a nice visual.

On the flip side, when was the last time the NHL put out decent All-Star jerseys. I mean, come on. These things are notorious for being hideous year after year. Having the players wear their own franchises’ uniforms wouldn’t work as well in hockey – where both teams are on the ice at the same time – as it does in baseball. Still, there’s definitely room for improvement by the NHL’s design team.

Significance

Baseball is a traditionalist’s game and traditionalists hate change. For this reason, a good chunk of the MLB’s fan base hates the fact that, as of 2003, home field advantage for the World Series has hinged on which league won that season’s All-Star Game. As a casual observer of baseball, I think it’s awesome. Listen to managers, players and the media talk about the MLB All-Star Game and you’ll see how seriously they take the outcome of the Mid-Summer Classic. If AL Manager Jim Leyland’s Tigers end up in the World Series, he’ll be thrilled that he led the All-Star team to victory back in July and same goes for the players.

Now by no means am I advocating hockey follow suit. The NHL All-Star Game, as previously stated, is not even close to being a real game. The worst thing the NHL could do would be to add Playoff implications to it. That said, without something to play for, the NHL can’t match the MLB.

Casual Fan Appeal

While I’m convinced the only people watching the NHL All-Star Game are hockey fans with nothing better to do – both because the game is on OLN Versus ESPN8:The Ocho NBCSN and because it’s just a terrible product – an All-Star Game should ideally appeal most to the casual fan. It’s the one game of the year in which an average sports fan might recognize the names of every player on both teams. But casual sports fans still want to see a competitive affair, something the NHL (along with the NBA and NFL for that matter) fails to offer. The the MLB consistently brings its A-Game.

The Olympics

MLB players don’t participate in the Olympics, but once every four years the NHL cancels its All-Star Game so its best players can play for their home countries in the Winter Olympics. Try finding me a hockey fan who prefers the All-Star Game to Olympic Hockey. It’s impossible. Who would rather watch guys half-ass it during a meaningless exhibition game than battle tooth-and-nail for a gold medal? It’s tough to care for the All-Star Game when the alternative is so much better.

So let’s just cancel this stupid thing…

Not so fast. While I don’t particularly care for the NHL All-Star Game, it’s probably a thrill for the host city and its fans, particularly those in attendance. Although it doesn’t compare to the Home Run Derby, the Skills Competition is still a fun opportunity for players to show off their skills that ISN’T THE SHOOTOUT. Finally, it’s one of the league’s premier events in terms of marketability and ad revenue (presumably) and might prevent the league from having to put together more blatant cash-grabs like the six outdoor games this upcoming season. On second thought, it probably won’t.

Spotted: Stanley Cup Beer Tap

Not quite drinking from the Cup itself, but maybe the next best thing.

Not quite drinking from the Cup itself, but maybe the next best thing.

Come across a sweet piece of hockey memorabilia in a local bar? Spot a goofy jersey on the concourse at the rink or at your local pizza joint? We want to see the hockey paraphernalia that makes your head turn for one reason or another. Send a picture with a brief back story/description to Alex@AlexMSilverman.com! 

Where: Percy’s Tavern, East Village, New York

When: Tuesday, July 16

Check out this awesome 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs beer tap courtesy of Coors Light. Never in my life have I wanted a kegerator so badly!

Our research, which naturally led us to Puck Daddy, shows that Molson Coors  issued taps like these to 4,000 bars across the U.S. and 2,500 in Canada during the 2012 Playoffs. We’re not sure whether the beer distributor sent another wave in 2013 or if someone at Percy’s liked this one enough to keep it there for more than a year. Either way, it’s not too often that fans of either New York team see the Stanley Cup, so good on Percy’s for reminding us all what it looks like.

Want a Coors Cup of your own? Head over to Beer Avenue, where you can purchase the exact handle pictured for $249.99 or the Molson version for $279.99.

The Top EA Sports NHL Video Game Characters of All-Time

Fortunate enough to have a Super Nintendo as a youngen, I have been glued to the television screen, playing video game hockey since NHL ’93.

In the early days, I gained a competitive edge by tricking my younger sister into believing her team’s back-up goalie, “Pull”, was her best option. As the years went on, I moved up to whooping Silverman’s ass every Friday after High School (*Editor’s Note: BULLSHIT). Most recently, I could be found throwing my controller across my college dorm room out of frustration while playing online. I was all about the NHL video game series.

As we await the release of the latest installment of EA Sports’ NHL series, which will seemingly include an homage to past NHL series greatness, I counted down my personal favorite players to light the lamp with over the years. In no particular order, here are probably the 5 most unrealistic, overrated and misrepresented video game characters who have ever taken over my living room.

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NHL 93 – Cliff Ronning

Throughout his tenure as a Vancouver Canuck in the early 90’s, Cliff Ronning was a consistent 20-30 goal scorer. This was not the case in NHL 93. Ronning was the deadliest offensive weapon in hockey video game history, way ahead of any other name on this list. With one tap of the B-button, Ronning would be halfway down the ice and he was always a sure thing to bury a nasty one-timer. His NHL ’93 counterpart was so dominant that the name Ronning will be forever be more well-known as a video game character than as an actual human being. By far the most talented video game athlete ever created, and yes that includes your Create-A-Player self.

Most of the overly epic player-renderings on this list are more than likely the result of happenstance. But Cliff Ronning says his video game greatness was no accident; Our friends over at Puck Daddy discovered its true source:

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NHL 02 – David Legwand

The early 2000’s weren’t the NHL’s most scoring-filled years, so in order to give fans their fix, EA gifted us with David Legwand and his ridiculous one-timer skills. Pass this guy the puck anywhere on the ice surface in NHL ’02 and he’d slap that biscuit home with ease. Unmatched strength, precise accuracy and a wheelhouse the size of an Olympic swimming pool propelled the Predator forward into the next level. The former No. 2 overall pick only had only two campaigns of 50-plus points in his career, but the video game David Legwand could routinely tally 100-plus goals in season mode.

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NHL 09 – Byron Bitz

Size, puck control, speed, vision and a wicked wrister: Am I describing Zdeno Chara or Milan Lucic? No. I’m talking about another Bruin, albeit one who is no longer on the team or even in the NHL: the former 4th rounder out of Cornell, the NHL 09 version of Byron Bitz. Coming off arguably his best season — he potted a whopping 4 goals in 35 regular season games and added one more in 5 playoff games — the crew at EA Canada decided to give this guy an extra helping of boss sauce in NHL 09.

Don’t be deceived by his low overall rating and his spot on the Bruins’ depth chart, the ’09 video game Bitz was a diamond in the rough. At 6’5″, 215 lbs, Bitz was nearly impossible to knock off the puck. All you had to do was walk in, snipe and repeat. Yes, it was that simple.

NHL 03 – Saku Koivu

After returning to the Canadians at the end of the ’01-’02 season, having successfully beaten  Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and leading his team past the heavily favored Bruins in the first round of the playoffs, the Montreal media was ready to anoint their captain as the next Habs legend. Apparently so were the programmers. Koivu was, and still is, a hero to the Montreal faithful, which must have included half the staff over at EA Canada.

The combination of the latest in deking technology and video-game Koivu’s new-found, unquenchable thirst to dangle filthily launched the Finnish center into EA sports immortality. Although the real Koivu posted a career best 71 points in the subsequent season, doubling those numbers would’ve been child’s play if he had nearly half the skills of his video game self.

NHL 94 – Jeremy Roenick

I’ll stick to my guns: ’93 Ronning is the best there’s ever been. But if anyone comes close it’s this guy.

Jeremy Roenick is well known for his skills on the ice. Today, he is identified by younger hockey fans as an analyst, small-time actor and overall badass (well at least until he cried on live television). In other words, Roenick transcends all realms of the entertainment industry. As one of the more recognizable American hockey players of his time, you’d expect JR to be the stud on an already-loaded Blackhawks roster in NHL ’94. Those expectations were well beyond exceeded. The pixelated, thumb-sized version of Roenick was a Super Nintendo mega-beast/borderline-god.

Forever cemented into video game history by this infamous scene in movie history in which he destroyed the great one himself, JR was sprung into EA Sports stardom.

This cemented video-game Roenick as “the guy behind the guy behind the guy.” Seriously, he was so f’n money.

Comments? Concerns? Questions? Answers? Opinions? Random gibberish? Go ahead and post your thoughts in the comment section.

Follow Joe Naftol on twitter: @JNaftol