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Road Trip

Road Trip: 25 Hours In Vancouver

Written by Zach Perry on .

Behind Enemy Lines: 25 Hours In Vancouver
Welcome_to_Van
The first sign (literally) that I was in Vancouver.

In 36 hours, I was on 4 flights in 2 states, 1 province and 2 countries. On each of the flights, I traveled stand by. I’m tired and spent too much money, but it was entirely worth it.

Living in Lincoln, Nebraska it’s pretty hard for me to get my NHL fix. In September I drove 3 hours to watch a preseason game in Kansas City between the Avalanche and the Kings. I work during the afternoon and night so I miss a lot of games.

As a Hawks fan, I wanted to get a chance to see them this year. I saw them at the UC against the Ducks this year, but pretty much all I’ve seen has been on TV. It’s also hard to find a good group of people to watch games with. In fairness, I must say the Hockey community in Nebraska is much stronger than expected. The Lincoln Stars and Omaha Lancers draw well, the Tri City Storm were just subject of a behind the scenes story on the news, and Dean Blais has the Nebraska-Omaha program going in the right direction. But still, it’s not the same.

I decided for a while that I was going to see the Hawks play in Vancouver for quite a while. Why Vancouver? Cool city (when not burned), good crowd, nice arena and (for the moment anyway) a good rivalry. I had only seen the Hawks outside of Chicago once, 2009 against St. Louis, and that was only by chance. The Hawks lost 1-0.

So how did this come about and was it expensive? Well I have a buddy who is a pilot for an airline and can get his friend cheap stand by fares. So after looking at the schedule, open seats and the heavily reduced fare, I decided to go for it. I then secured tickets by digging on Craigslist and talking with a friend who lives there we found some tickets in the lower level.

 

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A Fan's Guide To Roadtrips: Washington DC

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

Note: This is a feature that will run periodically at BHDL, based mostly on our own experiences, and partly on the upcoming games scheduled for the Blackhawks. Our hope is that eventually we will have a post for all 29 NHL arenas that the Blackhawks visit. We might even get a UC write-up from a visitor's perspective. If you've seen a Hawks game in another team's barn and want to contribute, send an email to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Today's entry comes from friend of the blog, Elaine.  You can follow her on Twitter @imaraindancer.  Notes from resident writer ChiBlackhawks have been added.  If you've been to a game at the Verizon Center, add your comments...well, you can add them in the...comments.

A few years back I was in DC for the March for Life. I snuck away from our group and used my cuteness to sneak into the third period of the CAPS game. They didn't play the Hawks, but it was free hockey so I cannot complain.

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A Fan's Guide to Road Trips: Nashville, Tennessee

Written by ChiBlackhawks on .

Note: This is a feature that will run periodically at BHDL, based mostly on our own experiences, and partly on the upcoming games scheduled for the Blackhawks. Our hope is that eventually we will have a post for all 29 NHL arenas that the Blackhawks visit. We might even get a UC write-up from a visitor's perspective. If you've seen a Hawks game in another team's barn and want to contribute, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Nashville has always been a city I’d wanted to visit, and while last season a trip to Music City didn’t seem to fit with my schedule, this year it has the distinction of being the only city within reasonable distance to have a Saturday game scheduled against the Hawks. Twice.

I couldn’t go to the November game due to conflicting travel plans, but with a few friends, I was able to make the trip to Nashville in mid-January. It’s definitely a place I’d like to visit again soon, but in the meantime, here’s the guide for anyone planning to head over and watch the Hawks as they visit the Predators for the last time this season.

Bridgestone Arena

The Bridgestone Arena

The Logistics

  • Flights - About $81 one-way on Southwest. It’s not too far away from Chicago so it isn’t done.
  • From the Airport - There are numerous shuttles available from the airport to downtown Nashville, but taking a taxi there isn’t a bad idea either, since it’s a flat rate of $25.
  • Hotel - We stayed at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown, but again, any hotel downtown would be great.
  • Transportation - Nashville is pretty easy to walk around, actually. There’s some sort of bus system but you don’t really need it.
  • Arena Accessibility - High. Bridgestone Arena is right downtown, within walking distance from most hotels as well as the honty-tonks that Nashville is known for.
  • Tickets - Pretty okay. Not as cheap as I would have thought, but decent.


The Game

  • Arena - Not bad. Couple random things I remember: a smoking section, awesome funnel cake (I’ve missed this in the last road trip guides, but it kind of feels sometimes like the UC concessionaires aren’t as awesome as the ones I’ve visited. RBC Center had DIPPIN’ DOTS.)
  • In-Game Entertainment - I wish I could remember where I’d put my notes from this trip-- I knew there were some things that I told myself not to forget, besides the fact that they had actual cheerleaders dancing in the 100-levels throughout the game. Or at least, during stoppages in play. But that’s all I got, which probably means they don’t have anything too out of the ordinary going on.
  • Heckler-per-Visiting-Fan Ratio - Not bad, although I’ve heard some stories in the past. We were left alone. (There was this one father and son tandem in the Predators Store, though, that I thought were quite hilarious. The father was clearly a Preds fan, but his son was wearing a Kane jersey. The little guy was looking at a Blackhawks puck quite longingly, but before he could ask, his father said, in a huff, “I’m not buying you any more Blackhawks stuff.”)


City Recommendations (ie, Making the Most of the Trip)

  • Pregame Meal - ANYWHERE. Literally, there are about a dozen places to go within a stone’s throw from Bridgestone. We went to Jack’s BBQ, but there’s also Paradise Park, which as far as I can tell is Nashville’s version of the Billy Goat, among others. Jack’s BBQ is one of the meat and three type places down south, where you get to pick your choice of meat plus three veggie side dishes. It crowds up just before the game, is the only thing, so get there a little early.
  • Postgame Drinks - Along Broadway there will be tons of bars that you can go to post-game, and those will more often than not have live music and no cover charge. Pretty sweet, huh? Further down Broadway, towards the river, you’ll come across 2nd Ave, which will have a couple other bars as well, these with cover charges of around $5 to $10. You’re encouraged to make a night of it. You’re welcome.
  • Hangover Breakfast -  Monell’s. I’m not even going to give you the benefit of checking any other place out, even though there were quite a few suggestions. It doesn’t even matter that it’s a bit of a way away from the downtown area-- grab a cab and get the cab company’s number so you have a ride back home. It’s that worth it. Monell’s is a Southern dining place where you’re seated with strangers in a table for 12 (unless, of course, there’s already 12 of you, in which case yay, you have a table to yourselves) and they’ll bring out food for everyone. They’re typically open for dinner as well, but we didn’t have time for that kind of meal so we opted to go for Sunday brunch, in which we were served, in no particular order: muffins, cinnamon rolls, cheese grits, potatoes, a meat platter (with ham, bacon, sausages, and breakfast patties), corn pudding, fried chicken, a couple of other things I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten, and JUST when you think you’re so full you can’t eat any more, out comes the pancakes. So maybe if you’re hungover from the night before this may not be the most awesome place to go to or it all goes back up, but then again, it still could be. Seriously. Best place in Nashville EVER.

On the Forecheck has put up a post for best places to go before and after a game, by the way, so feel free to check it out. I’ve also posed the question so here are some more answers.

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A Fan's Guide to Road Trips: Raleigh, North Carolina

Written by ChiBlackhawks on .

Note: This is a feature that will run periodically at BHDL, based mostly on our own experiences, and partly on the upcoming games scheduled for the Blackhawks. Our hope is that eventually we will have a post for all 29 NHL arenas that the Blackhawks visit. We might even get a UC write-up from a visitor's perspective. If you've seen a Hawks game in another team's barn and want to contribute, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Carolina is a pretty random place to decide to visit if you're a Blackhawk fan, but that's what I found myself planning a year ago when a good friend from college told me she was moving there to get her masters at Duke.

That trip ended up looking quite different from other road trips I've taken, but hey, since the All-Stars are this weekend I thought now would be as good a time as any to put up a guide to visiting Raleigh, home of the Carolina Hurricanes.

RBC CenterIt's a little hard to find hi-res swanky images of the RBC Center on Google. I'm not sure why.

The Logistics

  • Flights - It’s a little farther out to NC than most other places, so flights on Southwest, bought months ahead of time, would be somewhere in the ~$120 range. Plan and purchase ahead of time.
  • From the Airport - I didn’t see much of Raleigh (My friend lived in Durham) but from what I can gather, renting a car is probably your best bet in this city. The alternative is to cab it, but that could end up being more expensive in the long run.
  • Transportation - Rent a car for this one. I saw buses but not very many of them, and most people drove into the arena.
  • Arena Accessibility - We ended up driving over and didn’t get in until it was dark, so I didn’t really see much heading there. It looked pretty isolated. There are cabs you can take to and from the game but if you’d rather not fight for a way to get home, you’re better off taking your own vehicle.
  • Tickets - Reasonably priced. Uh. That’s all I remember.


The Game

  • Arena - It’s a non-descript building. Looks newer than others, which isn’t surprising either. There are some seats that mess with sight lines because of the way they’re set up, but otherwise it’s decent. (Pro tip: When visiting a new arena for the first time, try to avoid the first row/aisle seats in the nosebleeds, especially when it’s the first row of what would be the 2nd tier of seating, or the balcony if arenas were theatres.)
  • In-Game Entertainment - They take the hurricane moniker seriously over there. The players come out to a hurricane warning and everything. I remember they shout “JUSSI!” (during the first line-- get it? Jussi and “you see”? Haha) and “RED!” during the national anthem.
  • Heckler-per-Visiting-Fan Ratio - Low. Very low. But then again, I did come in the middle of a “snowstorm”, which in Chicago-speak is “1 to 2 inches”, so basically the city was shut down and the only people silly enough to brave icy roads and unplowed streets happened to be, you guessed it, Chicagoans and other Northern transplants eager to watch a hockey game. The weather was so bad their regular anthem singer couldn’t make it, and they had to get an arena staffer to sing for them.



City Recommendations (ie, Making the Most of the Trip)

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get around as much as I’d have liked, and to be honest even with a ride (my friend drove/cabbed us around) it was pretty hard for me to explore the city when it was pretty much shut down. I did get a semi-tour of Duke, which would have been awesome if I was still looking at colleges. I don’t think I’d be opposed to visiting Raleigh again, though next time, I’ll be sure to do so at the beginning of the season or towards its end-- never in the heart of winter. Just in case.

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A Fan's Guide to Road Trips: St. Louis, Missouri

Written by ChiBlackhawks on .

Note: This is a feature that will run periodically at BHDL, based mostly on our own experiences, and partly on the upcoming games scheduled for the Blackhawks. Our hope is that eventually we will have a post for all 29 NHL arenas that the Blackhawks visit. We might even get a UC write-up from a visitor's perspective. If you've seen a Hawks game in another team's barn and want to contribute, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Of all NHL cities and teams, St. Louis has to be one of the best I've ever visited. Because of how close it is to Chicago (a couple of hours' drive, but isn't that what lies at the very core of an epic road trip?) it's fairly easy to get a pretty big group together to make the trip, and because of the rivalry between the two teams you can rest assured the game would be nothing short of entertaining. Granted, I've never been to Detroit so I can't factor them into my opinion, but let's face it: at least there are Blues fans who actually live in St. Louis.

As I've said before, the first time I went to St. Louis was a little underwhelming, but the second time I went-- with SCH folks and a few other friends-- has pretty much become the standard in terms of defining, for me, what an epic hockey road trip is. Had the schedules worked out better this season (no Saturday games at all? Really?), you can bet I would have found my way back to the Scottrade Center with a few of my friends in tow.

The DrinkScotch Center


The Logistics

  • Getting There - I've never flown into St. Louis before, and depending on when the game is it's probably a better idea to just drive in or take the Amtrak to the city. Otherwise, flights would probably be in the ~$60 range. But why fly? This is the best city to drive to, fool!
  • Hotels - Pick a hotel, any hotel. Scottrade is downtown and you'll be able to find a decent one within city limits.  
  • Transportation - I'm not sure why we did what we did, but we walked/drove/cabbed it around St. Louis while we were there, so I can't advise you one way or another about their public transportation system. Except that it's a light rail transit called the MetroLink, and there's a station by Union Station which is close enough to Scottrade Center. Like Denver, St. Louis is a smallish city so it's fairly easy to get around, but of course depending on when you plan your trip you might want to consider other options if you're not too keen on freezing to death. The best bet is to make sure you're staying somewhere close to Scottrade Center.
  • Arena Accessibility - Which, by the way, is downtown and within walking distance to plenty of hotels, restaurants, and bars. Before you go in, be sure to purchase a copy of St. Louis Game Time, the Blues' unofficial fan program.
  • Tickets - The first time we went to visit, we got row 2 100-levels for a little over a hundred bucks. For the second visit, we were part of a group ticket package by the SCH guys so we paid roughly $30 per ticket. They're not too expensive but because St. Louis is so close to Chicago, games at the Scottrade Center could sell out if you don't purchase tickets ahead of time.</UL>


The Game

  • Arena - There's nothing entirely remarkable about the Scottrade Center, except perhaps its nickname the DrinkScotch Center.
  • In-Game Entertainment - Diehard Blues fans will swear on their mothers' graves that they all hate it, but too many people at the arena were dancing the Power Play Dance to have us believe them. Yep, when the Blues get a power play, it's not enough to have some flashy effects on the jumbotron-- the Blues' arena staff have also cobbled together some very suspect dance moves to accompany the song they play at the announcement of a power play.
  • Heckler-per-Visiting-Fan Ratio - Very High. Granted, we were probably cheering way too much ourselves, but the Blues and the Hawks have never really liked each other all that much.</UL>


City Recommendations (ie, Making the Most of the Trip)

  • Pregame Meal: Maggie O'Brien's - This was where the SCH folks decided to hold their meet-up, and being only a few blocks away from Scottrade, was perfect for the visiting fan. Good food and drinks, if a bit crowded the closer it is to game time.
  • Postgame Drinks: The Landing - You can choose to go back to the pub, but my friends and I also decided to check out "The Landing" or "Laclede's Landing" (I think-- look, I'm going off very hazy memories here, work with me a little), which is a ten-minute cab ride away from the Scottrade Center. The Landing is mostly clubs and not bars, and somehow we ended up in one with girls dancing on counters, but erm. It's something you can try, anyway?
  • Hangover Breakfast -  Unfortunately we didn't stay in St. Louis very long the day after, but on our way we passed by a Walmart and bought a bucket of chicken tenders to eat on our drive back. A+++</UL>
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A Fan's Guide to Road Trips: Denver, Colorado

Written by ChiBlackhawks on .

Note: This is a feature that will run periodically at BHDL, based mostly on our own experiences, and partly on the upcoming games scheduled for the Blackhawks. Our hope is that eventually we will have a post for all 29 NHL arenas that the Blackhawks visit, and maybe even a UC write-up from a visitor's perspective.  If you've seen a Hawks game in another team's barn and want to contribute, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

My first hockey road trip wasn't actually to a Blackhawks road game. I went to St Louis with my best friend sometime in January 2008 and the primary purpose of our visit was, believe it or not, to see St. Louis. Catching the hockey game (against either Columbus or Colorado, can't remember which) was only sort of secondary.

The game itself was great, but as it turns out, St. Louis in January is fucking dead. The weather was depressing, the streets were empty, and the Arch was quite the letdown. Plus we had to drive all the way back to Champaign after the game (spent only a day there) which kind of added a bit of stress to the whole trip.

My second visit to St. Louis was a much better experience (and you'll read about it soon) but it just goes to show that sometimes, there are other things to consider when going to an away game. Since hockey's a winter sport, the weather will always be a factor, and since most of the trips will be short-ish (I try to go only on weekends, with a few exceptions, so I don't use up too many vacation days at work) there's an added challenge of treading the line between going on a trip on a budget and making the most out of your stay in the NHL city of your choice.

But great hockey road trips make great memories-- there's the fun of discovering a new city (and arena) every time, the camaraderie from meeting other fans who've made the same trek you just did, and the thrill of being able to show support for your team in enemy territory (so long as you're never an obnoxious asshole, that is). One such trip is the one I made to Colorado at the end of last season.

It was the Hawks' last road game that year and my friend happened to be in Denver for a conference. The game was on a Friday so I decided to take that day off, arriving sometime that day and leaving the next day so we're back in Chicago for the Hawks' last home game against the Wings on Sunday. Slightly crazy scheduling but it left us enough time on Saturday to explore Denver too. Click "Read More" to, well. Read more.

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