CALGARY Cowboys, a cigar-and-shooters bar with waitresses who
could pass for Dallas cheerleaders, is a place where many an
out-of-town player has lost his focus.
EDMONTON Bring speed skates and be ready to fly. This is the
fastest ice in the NHL.
VANCOUVER The most gorgeous city in North America is one road
stop players don't seem to mind, especially when feasting at the
Salmon House on the Hill.
SAN JOSE An oasis in a barren downtown is O.J.'s (short for
Original Joe's, not Simpson), a family-style Italian restaurant
that's open till 1:30 a.m. and treats the players well.
ANAHEIM Rock-a-bye baby.... The fans' scarcity--and lack of
interest--makes playing in the Arrowhead Pond a snooze.
PHOENIX The visitors' bench is so short that the backup
goaltender must sit on a stool in the stands behind the goal.
LOS ANGELES Jack Nicholson won't be there, but don't get beat
while staring at Cuba Gooding Jr. or Sugar Ray's Mark McGrath,
who are regulars at rinkside.
BUFFALO When it's cold outside (and it usually is), most visiting
teams warm up at Anchor Bar, home of the original hot wings.
BOSTON With no seamless glass, pucks often take wild caroms when
they hit the metal rods holding the panels of glass in place.
OTTAWA With only one access road (Route 417) to the Corel Centre,
traffic to the out-of-the-way suburban arena is brutal. Some
teams even cancel the morning skate to avoid the hassle.
TORONTO In the hockey capital of the world players are often
distracted by ticket requests (most families and friends of
Canadian players either live in or like to visit this city) and
by equipment reps, many of whom are based here.
EAST RUTHERFORD (NEW JERSEY) After the game, of course, New York
City beckons, but by day players do some serious shopping at the
many outlet stores in Secaucus.
MONTREAL Chez Paree, the most legendary NHL hangout, is a
gentleman's club. When team curfews are broken, this place is
usually the reason.
DETROIT Rookies, bring your bathrobes. The visiting dressing room
at the Joe is so small that some players traipse down the hall to
another changing area to put on their civvies.
NEW YORK CITY (RANGERS) Madison Square Garden is notorious for
having the worst ice in the league, complete with holes that go
down to the cement floor.
ST. PAUL (MINNESOTA) Players usually avoid dining in their
hotels, but the exception is the St. Paul Hotel, where almost all
NHL teams stay. The St. Paul Grill is top drawer.
CHICAGO Visitors, beware red-meat overload. Many clubs don't hold
their team dinner until they hit the Windy City so that this
once-a-season ritual can take place at Morton's steak house.
UNIONDALE (N.Y. ISLANDERS) This is every team's least favorite
stop. The 30-year-old Nassau Coliseum is among the dirtiest and
most rundown facilities in the league.
COLUMBUS Players are advised to watch their step: The police
can't break up fights on the ice, but they do write summonses for
WASHINGTON Three of the four corner board sections in the MCI
Center are dead, but the fourth is extremely lively. Visiting
goaltenders have fits adjusting to the various speeds.
PHILADELPHIA These fans richly deserve their reputation as the
most abusive in the league. And, yes, it's a nightmare to play
TAMPA BAY Players sometimes leave their game (their hockey game,
that is) on the 18th hole--more NHLers hit the links here than at
any other road stop.
DENVER (COLORADO) LoDo is acclaimed by players as the best
downtown in the league, and their favorite hangout is the
ST. LOUIS About one quarter of the visitors' bench extends into
the attacking zone. A player sitting at that end can easily put
his team offsides when changing on the fly.
PITTSBURGH The liveliest end boards in the league. Shoot wide and
the ricocheting puck can either give a club a fluky rebound or
rocket out of the zone, leading to an odd-man rush.
DALLAS The most flexible boards and glass in the league make
bodychecks easier to take.
RALEIGH (NORTH CAROLINA) A college town brings college
atmosphere: This is the only arena in the NHL in which
cheerleaders (the Storm Squad) are used.
SUNRISE (FLORIDA) Golf is the choice here, with players
preferring Heron Bay, Doral and Grande Oaks (the site where
Caddyshack was filmed).
NASHVILLE Don't forget to bring your earplugs. The only NHL arena
in which live, loud bands play during intermissions.
ATLANTA High humidity leaves the ice sticky, keeping the puck
from sliding as fast as in other arenas and making passing
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATION BY SLIMFILMS