Hodgemail: What's your favourite arena, past or present? Staff

11/23/2010 12:22:21 PM

The demolition of the Spectrum in Philadelphia on Tuesday marks the loss of yet another NHL arena that has provided some great hockey memories.

It was the scene of the Flyers' first Stanley Cup victory in 1974 - when the Broad Street Bullies upset the Big Bad Bruins to become the first expansion team to win hockey's Holy Grail.

The following year, the Flyers hosted the Russian Red Army team in a game that can be remembered by the famous quote, "They're going home!" When the Flyers played it tough, the Russians left the ice and the game was delayed until they returned.

Each NHL arena has its own charm and mystique. The old Chicago Stadium was considered by many to be the loudest arena in the league and the new United Center is not far behind. The Montreal Forum was said to be home of the ghosts of great players that donned the famous bleu, blanc et rouge and many feel they now reside in the Bell Centre.

Who can forget the original Stampede Corral in Calgary with the high boards and the fans right on top of the players? Or Maple Leaf Gardens with owner Harold Ballard looking on from his bunker?

Madison Square Garden in New York is commonly referred to as the world's most famous arena and fans in the 'blue seats' play a big part in that, especially when the Rangers host the Islanders; just ask Denis Potvin! In Vancouver, the atmosphere is electric at Rogers Arena when anthem singer Mark Donnelly holds up the mic and allows the fans to sing 'O Canada' at Canucks' games.         

So here's Dave's question to you: "What is your favourite NHL arena, past or present?"

And here are the answers that Dave liked best:

Wayne in Toronto remembers: The cramped seating, long lineups to the washrooms and loud drunks in the greys -- you know by now I'm nominating Maple Leaf Gardens.

Scott in Montreal says: Many cities have buildings designed to host many events. The Bell Centre is designed to host hockey games, and does so better than any other.

John in Montreal says what I've heard from a lot of people who have visited all the current arenas: The Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota is two things a lot of others aren't -- beautiful and convenient.

Gene in Montreal picks: Chicago Stadium -- just for the organ.

And finally, since we're doing this game from Phoenix, there is this from Jeremy on the TSN/Facebook page: My favourite NHL arena will be the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.

Dave's reply to all:

You won't be surprised if I say I'm partial to rinks that don't exist anymore. Chicago Stadium was the best because it was the loudest. Maple Leaf Gardens was the best because it felt like home to me, and the Spectrum was the best because it didn't feel like home, and that's the way it was supposed to feel if you weren't a Flyer.

And then there was the Montreal Forum, which felt like the home of the Stanley Cup, and was our overwhelming Hodgemail winner. It was a place to behold when it was empty. It smelled like hockey -- the apple-red seats seemed freshly-painted for every game, and the ice glistened like no other. And when the Forum filled up and the hot dogs were steaming and the sounds of hockey came in two languages -- you felt more than glad to be there -- you felt privileged. In saying goodbye to the Forum during a TSN broadcast of the final game in March of 1996, I had the feeling that hockey would never be the same. But surely no arena was ever that important to the game, or maybe the Montreal Forum was.