Hockey fans might not be European soccer hooligans, but puckheads are still pretty nuts. As the pre-season, thankfully, winds down, the hockey world has been all ‘a Twitter’ with training camp happenings – however minute or mundane.
In Montreal, fans began booing No. 1 netminder Carey Price less than 30 minutes into the first exhibition game of the year. In Toronto, a 5-0 loss to Ottawa to begin the pre-season ended in jeers as well.
On the Isle, they haven’t even played a real game yet and already two of New York’s best players have gone down for months. There’s even talk of not putting Mark Streit on long-term injury reserve to ensure meeting the salary cap floor. And Alexei Yashin is their highest-paid player this season. You’ve gotta feel for Isles fans.
But just who are the NHL’s nuttiest supporters? Which buildings are home to hockey’s horrors of home ice? We’ve got the answer. This is THN’s Top 10 craziest NHL buildings, with the order straight from our 2008 The Ultimate Book of Hockey Lists:
10. Joe Louis Arena
When your team is as good as the Red Wings year-in-and-year-out – 19 consecutive playoff berths and four Cups in 13 seasons – it’s no wonder Detroit Rock City rocks for home games. Watch out for flying octopi.
9. HSBC Arena
Sabres fans are some of the most loyal – and most vocal. Through thick and thin, Buffalonians stick by their team, packing the arena nightly.
8. Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
If you’re a fan of the Islanders, God bless your heart. There are few teams with a worse record in the past decade and even fewer worse places to watch a game. But there’s a hardcore following on Long Island yearning for a return to glory and a chance to hate on the Rangers.
7. Staples Center
There’s so much to do in La-La Land, the Kings sometimes get lost in the mix. But each season Kings faithful go on a roadie to Anaheim for the annual Ducks Roast; a return to top form will put them front and center again.
6. Rexall Place
Oilers fans are still surviving on the 1990 Cup and, after last season, are in dire need of something to cheer about. But when they do, look out. Whyte Avenue became the Red Mile in 2006 when playoff celebrations in Edmonton ended with stabbings and mobs keeping ambulances out.
5. Pengrowth Saddledome
Calgary’s 2004 run to the Cup final is legendary as much (or more) for the adult-rated Flames street-party scenes from the Red Mile that were splashed on the Internet than for the actual final loss itself.
4. Air Canada Centre
Toronto fans aren’t always known for being the loudest in the league, but that’s only inside the building. First round wins – which hasn’t happen since 2004 – elicit much festiveness and the city nearly shuts down for anything beyond Round 1; guess that’s what happens when it’s been 43 years since the last Cup.
3. Bell Centre
Is any group anywhere more passionate than Canadiens fans? We don’t think so. They cheer with their heart on the collective sleeve and can be seen at any NHL rink any time. And of course, as we witnessed last spring, playoff series wins can mean riots in the streets. Same as always, remember 1955, when the Richard Riots broke out after the Rocket was suspended?
2. Madison Square Garden
Few barns in the world can boast fans as boisterous as those found on Broadway. They’ve mobbed opposition busses, kept ambulances with injured players from leaving and thrown batteries from the stands at their most hated players. It’s not a nice place to play.
1. Wells Fargo Center
The what? That’s the old Wachovia Center. Which was the old Spectrum…ah, you say, Philly! In Philadelphia, Santa Claus gets pelted with snowballs and goons are beloved figures. If you don’t play hard and hit, you won’t survive the Flyers faithful – and that’s just when they’re playing road hockey.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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