Be warned: This is a controversial topic and a controversial article. The topic of "Which stadium is the best to watch NHL hockey" is one that's usually met with fire and anger. Should you rank an arena unfairly in the eye of the reader you best be prepared to be labeled a moron. Should you create an article that ranks stadiums and fail to provide any supporting evidence you should also be prepared to be labeled a moron.
With that being said, the site Stadium Journey surveyed the 30 NHL arenas and named their best spots to catch a game. The results will probably surprise you and potentially offend you due to the lunacy of some of these rankings.
So, which arena did the survey (which you can read here) name as the best place to watch a game? Minnesota's Xcel Energy Center. The decision to give the Wild the top ranking is a fair, yet interesting one. No one will argue the passion out of Minnesota, but the site's reasoning for giving the Land of 10,000 Lakes the title is a bit vague.
"The fans know the game and appreciate the little things, such as clearing the puck on the penalty kill, or a good defensive play to prevent a scoring chance. That is what gives the Xcel a truly special atmosphere and, even though the initial luster of having the NHL back in Minnesota has worn off, there is still a buzz around the building."
That's it? Seriously? The rankings claim to be based on items such as food and beverage, neighborhood, extras and return on investment. None of those points are addressed, instead we are supposed to believe Minnesota is the best due to the fact the fans know a good play when they see one. That's a pretty common trait around NHL arenas. It might be surprising to learn that fans around the NHL know the game of hockey.
Minnesota might be the best, but surely you can make a more compelling case as to why they're the best instead of just praising knowledgeable fans.
If you're curious how the rest of the list shapes out, here's arenas 2-30.
3. Tampa Bay
4. Los Angeles
9. San Jose
10. St. Louis
11. New York (Rangers)
18. New Jersey
22. New York (Islanders)
Where to begin? Tampa Bay added some pretty incredible features (enormous scoreboard, real lightning), but even with those improvements it's silly to rank them at #3. Phoenix in the eighth spot is laughable. Maybe the ranking is just if you enjoy taking in games with relative peace and quiet due to the incredibly small crowds (29th in the NHL).
Plenty of clubs are ranked way too high and several are ranked far too low. Detroit's Joe Louis Arena is 28th? Granted, the building is aging and the club needs a new rink, but the pure history of the building should be enough to push it way up this list.
Vancouver is 24th. Want to know why?
"Fin, the Canucks' whale mascot, dates back to the Orca Bay days and is a well-known symbol of the team. He goes around the stadium with his drum to get the fans going, and the kids love him. He is a little scary looking, with his sharp teeth a feature of Fin's, but overall, he does what a mascot is supposed to do — entertain the fans."
As far as we can tell, Vancouver is 24th because their mascot has teeth.
We've dedicated far too much time to this survey, but it raises some interesting questions. Which arena do you think is the best to take in a game? Better yet, which arena would you like to go catch a game if given the opportunity?