There are few things more intimidating in sports than a loud arena. The crowd cheering itself into a frenzy, the emotion in the air. The noise, the unique traditions, all of these things create a feeling that’s near impossible to match.
So today, I’m going to countdown the 10 arenas in NHL history. Some of these hallowed halls were torn down years ago, so here’s my small tribute to them.
Top Ten NHL Arenas in History
10. Winnipeg Arena 1955-2004
The original home of the Winnipeg Jets, the Winnipeg arena was home to the team until their relocation in the mid-1990s. If you would like to read about why the team left you can read about it here. The Jets were the first team to use a goal horn that had a connection to the city. The Winnipeg arena also gave birth to the Jets trademark playoff tradition, the Winnipeg Whiteout.
9. Hartford Civic Center 1975-2007
I know, technically this place still exists but I’ll always wonder what it would have been like to hear that classic horn and Brass Bonanza in person. The former home of the Whalers still exists but NHL hockey hasn’t been played there for years. A fact this writer thinks is a tragedy.
8. The Los Angeles Forum 1969-Present
Another arena that was never actually demolished. The LA forum was a special place during the era of the Triple Crown line for the Kings. Although their jersey decisions were a bit shaky at the time, the home of the kings was and is a special barn.
7. Chicago Stadium 1928-1995
Ah, now to get some obligatory hometown bias out of the way. What could be said about the grand old lady that hasn’t already been said? It was the home of Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Eddie Belfour, Keith Magnuson, and Doug Wilson. It gave birth to the Blackhawks tradition of cheering during the anthem, hosted classic playoff series between the Blackhawks, the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues among others. And it was home to the NHL’s first goal horn.
6. Philadelphia Spectrum 1969-2011
The home of the broad street bullies, the spectrum was one of the most intimidating places to play in the league. It still remains as to this day. One of the most emotional buildings in the league, it perfectly encapsulated what city it represented. The spectrum was special. The culture the Philadelphia Flyers had in that time was special.
5. Madison Square Garden 1879-Present
The home of the New York Rangers, and the world’s most famous arena. MSG is one of the most if not the most iconic American arena in the league today. And though it’s been renovated several times over the years (the most recent of which occurred in 2011) the spirit of that building has never changed.
4. Boston Garden 1928-1995
Much like the Spectrum mentioned earlier, the original Boston Garden was one of the most intimidating barns in the league. It was gritty, blue collar, loud and tough to play in. Especially if you happened to be wearing the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge of Montreal. The home of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, Ray Bourque and Gerry Cheevers was and still is one of the NHL’s great monuments.
3. Montreal Forum 1924-1996
The home of the Montreal Canadians for almost an age. The Forum was the most difficult place to play in for all Canadians opponents. Particularly if you happened to be wearing a black and gold sweater with a B on it. The home of legends like Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy, and Maurice “Rocket” Richard. The place had a feel of reverence so rarely seen in arenas, almost as if the players were gladiators in the colosseum in Rome.
2. United Center 1996-Present
It would be a tough order to resurrect that famous Chicago Stadium roar, but when the hawks did, they did it in style. The Current home of the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Bulls has all the amenities you’d expect from an arena nowadays, but it also has new blood roaring their teams to victory.
1. Maple Leaf Gardens 1931-1999 (it’s still in existence but not used for NHL games)
After one Conn Smythe bought the Toronto St. Pats, he moved them to the then newly built Maple Leaf Gardens and changed their name to the Toronto Maple Leafs. This would be the case for almost 70 years. The Leafs have had their ups and downs as an organization but the Maple Leaf Gardens was a special place, Rivaled by few in passion and intensity, particularly during the era when they won their cups.
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