The life of an NHL player is something every kid growing up playing hockey dreams about experiencing. Whether it’s a just a couple games or a Hall of Fame career the thought of suiting up for an NHL franchise is pretty intoxicating. Which got me thinking, if you could pick one city to have a career in as an NHL player what would be the best and worst city? It’s not necessarily your favorite team or least favorite team, it’s just the city itself, its culture, and lifestyle, etc. My choices were pretty easy to make.
My choice of the best city to be an NHLer is Tampa Bay. The weather is fantastic during hockey season, sold out games are the norm for a fan base that is far more into hockey than they get credit for, and the Tampa area is really nice. You can be an NHL player on a team with a winning culture (2004 Stanley Cup Champions and 2015 Finals appearance) in a great climate and still go to the grocery store most likely unnoticed or approached. Maybe it’s my experience of having gone to college at the University of Arizona where driving up to games in Phoenix was the best. Sitting outside the arena in flip-flops and shorts with cocktails and all the “scenery” yet still having the excitement of NHL hockey indoors. Tampa is the best of both worlds; success with comfort. My runner-up would be Anaheim for the same reasons.
The worst city for me is Toronto. Now, it is a beautiful city that I loved visiting. It’s one of the best big North American cities I’ve been to. But as an NHL player the media scrutiny is brutal even for the most minor of issues, long cold winters exist, and the fans are often Banana Land crazy to a fault at times. I know they are desperate for a Stanley Cup in Toronto, you’d have to go all the way back to 1967 to find their last one, so winning one there would make you a God but it’s just been a dysfunctional organization for quite some time. This summer they brought in Mike Babcock and Lou Lamiorello to help and they will change that. But if I had to pick today Toronto is not a place I’d want to deal with as an NHLer. My runner-up for worst city to play in would be Newark, New Jersey for the Devils.
What are your picks? We’d love to hear you in the comment section!