The 10 Toughest Places to Play in the NHL
When many people think of toughest places to play, they figure you're talking about college football or basketball. Many people don't think the crowd has a very big impact in the NHL.
I would have to strongly disagree with them. If you have ever been to a hockey game, then you know how loud the crowd can get, especially when the home team is winning.
Let's face it—when you combine sports and drinking, you are going to get a lot of rowdiness.
The difference between hockey and other sports is how close the fans are to the players. There is only a single pane of glass separating the fans from the players' bench and the penalty box, and more than a few times fans have dove into the penalty box.
The fans are also somewhat involved in the game with the traditional throwing of one's hat onto the ice after the home team's player has scored a hat trick.
With all this said, here are the top 10 toughest places to play in the NHL. Feel free to voice your opinions.
RBC Center—Carolina Hurricanes
When most people think of intimidating places to play, they don't think of a team from the South. The Carolina Hurricanes have changed this.
The RBC Center seats 18,680 people. Ever since the Hurricanes moved here in 1997, this has been a tough building to play in. One of the reasons is the hurricane warning, which is played after every Hurricanes goal.
With their Stanley Cup victory in 2006, Canes fans have cemented themselves as some of the most hostile fans out there.
Mellon Arena—Pittsburgh Penguins
Mellon Arena, aka "The Igloo," is home of the Penguins. It seats 16,940 people. With the Penguins being such a good team in recent years, this place has become difficult for any team to play in.
Its signature is the "white out." The Pens fans dress in all white to make it difficult for other teams to play.
The Igloo is set to be demolished in 2010 to make way for Consol Energy Center, which hopefully will keep up the intimidation that this building has always given off.
Wachovia Center—Philadelphia Flyers
The Wachovia Center is home to the Flyers. It has a seating capacity of 19,519. The building set the record for attendance at a hockey game with 20,291 for Game One of the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals.
When they want to really intimidate an opponent, the Flyers fans will dress in all orange in an attempt to throw the opposing team off their game.
Air Canada Centre—Toronto Maple Leafs
The Air Canada Centre is home to the Maple Leafs. It can seat 18,819.
Being in Canada makes it so much more of a home ice advantage for the Leafs. It has become a little less intimidating over the years with the Leafs' struggles lately, but the fans still keep the atmosphere great with chants of GO LEAFS GO!!!!
If you ever want to go to a hockey game with a great atmosphere, make sure you check out the Air Canada Centre.
Pengrowth Saddledome—Calgary Flames
The Pengrowth Saddledome is home to the Flames. It can seat 19,289 people.
The shape of the stadium is much different from other stadiums, reducing the amount of noise. This still doesn't stop the fans from going nuts after every Flames goal.
After every Flames goal, the building flashes red and white as Flames are shown on the ice. This is another must see for any die-hard hockey fan.
Verizon Center—Washington Capitals
The Verizon Center is home to the Capitals. It seats an estimated 18,277 people.
The building wasn't considered very intimidating during the early 2000s when the team was struggling, but when Alex Ovechkin joined the team, it exploded onto the map.
Over the past couple of years, the Verizon Center has become one of the most difficult places to play in the NHL. The fans will usually wear all red in an important game and are a very hostile crowd that has brought hockey back to the nation's capital.
United Center—Chicago Blackhawks
The United Center is home to the Blackhawks. It seats an estimated 20,500.
It is made famous by the fact that when the National Anthem is sung, it is almost impossible to be heard because of the fans cheering and yelling so much.
The stadium is set up in a way so as much noise as possible is kept in the building.
If you ever want to hear an amazing national anthem, make sure you check out the United Center.
Joe Louis Arena—Detroit Red Wings
The "Joe" is home to the Red Wings. It can seat 20,066 people.
The Red Wings have been one of the best teams in the past 20 years. A huge part of this is their fanbase, especially during home games. Most of the fans in the stadium will have on Red Wings jerseys and will sometimes wear all red or white to intimidate their opponents.
This is another must see for any hockey fan.
HP Pavilion—San Jose Sharks
HP Pavilion, aka "The Shark Tank," is home to the Sharks. It holds an estimated 17,496.
While it is smaller than other arenas, it is still very intimidating. Most of the fans always have Sharks jerseys on.
The Sharks went 32-5-4 at home this season, the best of all the NHL teams. While hockey isn't the biggest sport in California, the Sharks fans make sure any team that comes into the Shark Tank is scared.
Bell Centre—Montreal Canadiens
The No. 1 toughest place to play in the NHL is the Bell Centre, home of the Montreal Canadiens.
With an estimated capacity of 21,273, it is one of the largest buildings in the NHL. The fans make it even more difficult.
From the singing of the national anthem to the end of the game, this crowd is in a nonstop frenzy with chants of "GO HABS GO!!!" to "OLE OLE OLE OLE" when the Habs are close to winning.
If you are a fan of hockey, make sure you make it up to the Bell Centre.