16 February 2018

Hockey Road Trip: Empire State Excursion (Part 1)

My original intent with the quest to see all 30 NHL arenas was to use this as a way to see portions of North America that I might not otherwise visit. It would be a travelogue of sorts, and I would take every opportunity to see as many historical landmarks and tourist attractions as I could along the way. A quick glance at the list of NHL markets reveals a wide assortment of some of the most popular destinations around.

And then there’s Buffalo.

Everything I had heard about Buffalo said that it was a terrific place to live, with loads of young professionals choosing to relocate and start families there - but it wasn’t known for great tourist attractions, other than nearby Niagara Falls. As a result, I always planned to use my Buffalo trip as a chance to see as much of upstate and western New York as possible, with one extra wrinkle: Canada was close as well.

Considering their proximity, I figured I would visit Toronto and Buffalo on the same trip in order to knock two markets off my list. But there were so many other teams in the area that I wanted to see in person (specifically those in the OHL and AHL), and I found that I could go one step further by going the other direction around Lake Erie to see Montreal and Ottawa instead - thereby knocking out THREE teams along the way! What ensued was my most ambitious trip yet: the Empire State Excursion, which would see my travel companion Chad and I take in EIGHT hockey games in NINE days!

In order to maximize our vacation days in the spring of 2016, I used the Good Friday/Easter holiday as the bookend for the trip. We would fly out of Los Angeles on St. Patrick’s Day, and arrive in Buffalo just before midnight. The massive journey would commence the following morning…


Since the itinerary would have us driving hundreds of miles across two different countries - and also due to the previously-mentioned lack of tourist attractions - I knew my time in Buffalo would be limited. However, I made sure to begin the trip at the one local landmark that I had to visit: the Teddy Roosevelt Inauguration Site. A modest house on the outskirts of the downtown area, the museum houses a terrific display of artifacts relating to the 1901 World’s Fair, notoriously remembered as the site of President William McKinley’s assassination.

01 February 2018

Squire Report, Vol 6: Midseason

We've reached the halfway point of the season and the Vegas Golden Knights hold the best record in the Western Conference - just like we all predicted, right?


A new calendar year also brought forth contract extensions for a trio of players, most notably Jonathan Marchessault.  Perhaps GM George McPhee must be reading my blog - how else to explain the fact that Marchessault received his 6-year, $30 million contract extension on the day AFTER I posted my last Squire Report, in which I mentioned how the Knights' leading scorer needed to be locked up immediately.  As you can imagine, I'm quite happy with the deal: Marchessault just turned 27 a month ago, and has helped to solidify one of the best scoring lines in the NHL.  Theoretically, his production should continue to remain in line with the money he's set to make, and it sets a good example to the fanbase that not every pending free agent will be traded, no matter how valuable.

It was also nice to see Deryk Engelland receive a one-year extension this past month.  A questionable selection in the Expansion Draft since he could have been signed as an unrestricted free agent a week later, "Captain Concierge" has proved his importance both on and off the ice - his heartfelt speech during the emotional home opener will cement his status as a beloved fan favorite for years to come.  But he's still got something left in the tank, and I can easily see him inking one-year deals every year until he's done playing, at which point I definitely picture him taking a job within the organization.

The last extension was a bit of a head-scratcher, mostly because Jon Merrill has spent more than half of the season as a healthy scratch.  I honestly thought that management would want to see him in action a little bit more, but they were impressed enough during his limited time to award him with a two-year extension.  Here's hoping this translates to improved play when he returns from the injured reserve, where he's spent the last three weeks.  From there, maybe we can work on finally getting his picture corrected on the Hockey News website!

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