The debate over the best hockey town in the land will never be settled but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a list. Winning traditions, historic rivalries and passionate sports fans all influence what makes up the best hockey towns. However, hockey is the heartbeat of some towns and that is what makes them the best hockey towns in North America.
Playing in their first season in 1924, this Original Six team is a historic one. Winning 6 Stanley Cups, the second most by any American team, Boston has a strong winning tradition. Catch a game at the Penalty Box if you can’t find tickets to the game and enjoy a fanatic atmosphere unlike any other hockey bar in the country. While the Bruins are a large part of Boston’s winning tradition, there is more to the town than winning another Stanley Cup. Boston College and Boston University are 2 of the best hockey schools in the US and continue to produce talented players. Boston is rich in tradition, and the hockey culture runs deep. Watch a game at the TD Garden and soak it all in, that is, if you can find a ticket.
Home to the NHL Hall of Fame it is no wonder why Toronto makes this list. As a member of the Original Six their passion for hockey is spirited. Although, they have not won the Stanley Cup since the 1966-67 season, they do have 13 to their name. While the Maple Leafs may be in a drought, their resurgence is on the horizon. In 2013 they secured their first playoff birth in 8 years only to fall to fellow Original Six member, the Boston Bruins. No matter the team record the fans always back the home team. Head to Toronto and make a pilgrimage to the Hockey Hall of Fame and embrace the hockey culture that Toronto has to offer.
Good luck finding tickets to a Winnipeg Jets game when they are in season. This is one of the hottest tickets in North America. Since the Jets returned to Winnipeg in 2011 they have been selling out regularly. The 2011 home opener against the Montreal Canadiens saw ticket prices averaging $713 on StubHub. The Jets moved to Phoenix to become the Coyotes but it was only a matter of time until these Manitobans had their beloved franchise back. Now Jets fans are going to make sure their beloved team is here to stay.
Founded in 1909 the Montreal Canadiens are the only team to actually predate the founding of the NHL. Winning 24 championships and roughly 25% of all Stanley Cups contested make them the most winning team in NHL history. They are so crazy about hockey that the University of Montreal created a class called “the Religion of the Montreal Canadiens.” The expectations of the Habs to win another Stanley Cup is unsurpassed in the NHL and could only be compared to the New York Yankees in terms of winning tradition and passionate fan base. So head to Montreal to catch a game, and take in Montreal's hockey culture while enjoying a steamed hot dog on a Pom bakery bun with a side of poutine.
The Minnesota Wild may not have a long history in the NHL but hockey culture dominates the Twin Cities. They may have lost the North Stars to Dallas but if it were simply a matter of best hockey town in the US, the Twin Cities would top the list. The winter months are long and ruled by hockey. The state high school hockey finals are reason enough to take the day off work. Miracle on Ice coach Herb Brooks honed his skills coaching at the University of Minnesota. College and high school hockey alike engulf the state. The former North Star fans now follow the Wild with the same unparalleled passion. Hockey is the heartbeat of Minnesota and the hockey tradition is incomparable to any city in the US.