Ranking the 10 Places Every Diehard Hockey Fan Needs to Visit

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor IAugust 7, 2013

Ranking the 10 Places Every Diehard Hockey Fan Needs to Visit

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    If hockey fans were to make a bucket list of 10 places they must see during their lifetime, where should they go? We will now rank the 10 places every diehard hockey fan needs to visit.

    We have included some diverse locations that show different aspects of the game of hockey at different levels.

    For the purposes of this list, a building has to be still in existence to be included here. The Olympia in Detroit or the Boston Garden cannot be included here since fans can no longer see them.

    In addition, I have decided not to include current NHL buildings since they are all fairly new (Madison Square Garden is the oldest, and it opened in 1968) and fans of each team will support their home building. It's also too darn obvious.

    Feel free to add any places you feel should be on this list.

10. The NHL Store

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    We start in New York City at the NHL Store.

    Sure, the prices are high, but the selection of NHL-related items is tough to beat. You'll find everything you can think of for all 30 NHL teams and even t-shirts for defunct teams like the Kansas City Scouts and California Golden Seals.

    But perhaps the best part of the NHL Store is what else goes on there. The league often hosts special events at the store and current players or stars from the past often stop by to make appearances.

    Commissioner Gary Bettman also records his weekly radio show at the NHL Store and many other NHL-related radio broadcasts originate from the studio located high above the retail area's floor.

    Overall, it makes the NHL Store a fun experience for any hockey fan and a place we should all visit at least once.

9. Mariucci Arena

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    Mariucci Arena is the home of the University of Minnesota's hockey team.

    The Mariucci Arena opened in 1993 and has already hosted several regional NCAA Men's Hockey Regionals and the inaugural NCAA Women's Hockey Frozen Four.

    The arena is also host to the consolation round of the Minnesota State High School League. That is arguably the most watched and anticipated high school hockey event in the United States.

    The great sight lines, important games and exciting atmosphere at the Mariucci Arena make it a must-see for diehard hockey fans.

8. David S. Ingalls Rink

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    If you're a fan of hockey and enjoy unique architecture, the David S. Ingalls Rink in New Haven, Connecticut, is a must-see destination.

    The arena is the home of Yale University's hockey team. It opened in 1958 and has undergone several renovations since then.

    The unique shape of the building has earned it the nickname "The Yale Whale." It's an intimate setting and has a capacity of only 3,500 for hockey.

    Because of its lovely appearance outside and the intimate environment inside that puts you close to the ice, "The Yale Whale" is a must-see for hockey fans.

7. Yost Ice Arena

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    Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan, provides a unique hockey experience.

    The building was opened in 1923 and has been the home of the Michigan hockey team since 1973. It was named after former Michigan football coach and athletic director Fielding Yost.

    Because of several renovations, Yost combines the charm of an old barn with modern amenities that fans can appreciate.

    Yost also provides a spirited college hockey experience that cannot be matched anywhere else. The fans have several great traditions and the hockey band keeps the students and alumni on their feet for long portions of the game.

    Yost has also been the host of five NCAA regional tournaments over the course of its history and no school has won more NCAA titles than the University of Michigan.

    Expect a unique experience at Yost that combines modernity and tradition. Add a spirited crowd to the mix and you have a night that no true hockey fan will soon forget.

6. Cambria County War Memorial Arena

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    The name may not be familiar, but the Cambria County War Memorial Arena has been seen by millions of hockey fans over the past 36 yearsjust not in person. Yes, the movie Slap Shot was filmed there. 

    The 1977 classic starring Paul Newman can be recited almost by memory by almost every hockey player and diehard hockey fan. The antics of the Hanson Brothers, Reg Dunlop, Ned Braden and the rest of the Charlestown Chiefs are a unique part of hockey lore.

    The building itself opened in 1950 and holds just over 4,000 fans for hockey. It has been renovated several times, most recently in 2003.

    Among the minor league teams that have played here are the Johnstown Jets, which the original film was based on, the Johnstown Wings, Chiefs, Jackals, Riverhawks and Generals.

    However, the Charlestown Chiefs will always be the most famous team to inhabit this arena.

5. Herb Brooks Arena

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    In 1980, the little town of Lake Placid in upstate New York became the center of the hockey world.

    There, on February 22, the U.S. Olympic hockey team pulled off the greatest upset in hockey history when it upset the mighty Soviets 4-3. Two days later, the U.S. defeated Finland to win the gold medal and complete the Miracle On Ice.

    Sports Illustrated voted it the greatest sports moment of the 20th century.

    Now, the arena is named for Herb Brooks, the legendary coach of that upstart team made up of mostly college hockey players and minor leaguers who defeated a group of Soviet professionals.

    Less than a year earlier, that same Russian team won a best-of-three Challenge Cup series against a team of NHL All-Stars.

    Anybody with a sense of hockey history should visit this arena in Lake Placidat least those hockey fans who still believe in miracles.

4. The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

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    The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Eveleth, Minnesota. The building opened in 1973 and calls itself "The Capital of American Hockey."

    There are 156 players, owners, coaches and other hockey-related people who have been inducted into the Hall. Both the 1960 and 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Teams, Herb Brooks, Frank Brimsek, Hobey Baker, Craig Patrick, Ed Olczyk and Bill Chadwick are among the members.

    There are exhibits celebrating all levels of hockey in the United States including college hockey, high school hockey and the pros. 

    The world's largest hockey stick is also located in Eveleth and adds to the experience.

3. The Montreal Forum

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    Hockey purists may be offended by the Forum being so low on this list, but in its current state, it's tough to rank it much higher.

    The Forum in Montreal is the most hallowed of the Original Six NHL rinks. It opened in 1924 and was home to both the Montreal Maroons and Montreal Canadiens.

    The Habs won 22 Stanley Cups while playing at the Forum while the Maroons won two more. It also hosted the Memorial Cup six times.

    The list of great players that played at the Forum is almost too long to contemplate. Howie Morenz, Doug Harvey, Jean Beliveau, Rocket Richard, Jacques Plante, Henri Richard, Yvan Cournoyer, Ken Dryden, Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson and Patrick Roy make just a partial list of the greats.

    The building holds so much history that, as early as the 1970s, people spoke of the "ghosts" of the Forum, where great players of the past came to help the modern Canadiens win hockey games.

    Today, the Forum looks more or less the same on the outside, but inside it is an entertainment center called The Pepsi Forum. It contains a multiplex movie theater, restaurants and stores. There is an area that commemorates center ice and a small section of grandstand as well as a statue of an enthusiastic fan enjoying a game.

    The old rink itself is gone, as are the home and visiting locker rooms. If it were still in its old shape, it would probably be No. 1. In its current state, the Forum still makes the top five of this list.

2. Maple Leaf Gardens

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    Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto is one of two Original Six buildings that are still standing. The building is not the same as it was when the Leafs played there, but fans should still go and see this historic sight that is full of hockey history.

    The building opened in 1931, during the height of the Great Depression. The Maple Leafs played there between 1931 and 1999, winning 11 Stanley Cups while calling the place home.

    In 1934, the benefit game for Ace Baileywhose career was ended by a brutal hit by Eddie Shorewas held at the Maple Leaf Gardens. It was the prototype for the NHL All-Star Game. In 1947, the first official NHL All-Star Game was held there too.

    In 1972, Game 2 of the Summit Series between Canada and the USSR, which Canada won 4-1, was played at the MLG.

    Besides the Maple Leafs, the Toronto Marlies of the OHL and the Toronto Toros of the WHA also called Maple Leaf Gardens home.

    Great players who played their home games at Maple Leaf Gardens include Syl Apps, Turk Broda, George Armstrong, Tim Horton, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Lanny McDonald, Borje Salming and Darryl Sittler.

    Today, Ryerson University plays its hockey games at Maple Leaf Gardens, although the building has a very reduced seating capacity.

1. The Hockey Hall of Fame

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    The Hockey Hall of Fame was established in 1943 in Toronto. It has been at its present location since 1993.

    The Hall is the ultimate hockey shrine for the diehard fan. There are 370 inductees including players, builders and officials.

    All the greats are here: Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Rocket Richard, Jean Beliveau, Patrick Roy, Mario Lemieux, Eddie Shore, Lester Patrick and Conn Smythe.

    The Hall also holds all the NHL trophies including the original Stanley Cup. There are exhibits including vintage jerseys, sticks and equipment. 

    In addition, there are films and an extensive research center for those looking to study the game's history.

    The Hockey Hall of Fame is a must-see destination for any diehard hockey fan.