With the NHL having a history that stretches a century back, we’ve seen many great and bad ice rinks. Some of them have been closed due to structural failures or because teams have gone out, while others have gained legendary status.
So, what makes an arena special? It’s not just the shape of the rink but other factors too. An arena becomes iconic because of the legendary matches that have taken place inside and the atmosphere the fans create, as you can see in this guide to NHL arenas. In the paragraphs below, we’ll talk more about the most iconic arenas in NHL history.
Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden is probably the world’s most famous arena, and not just in NHL terms. It’s the home ground of the New York Knicks, where NBA superstars typically record legendary stats. In terms of ice hockey, the arena hosts the NY Rangers. Opened in 1968, this is the fourth iteration of the arena that has hosted memorable events, including the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. The arena has an incredible aura that others can’t match, and the Manhattan skyline surrounding it surely helps the case.
Located in Chicago, the United Center is a complete roof to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are one of the most successful teams of the mid-2010s, winning championships on their home ground in 2010, 2013, and 2015. The arena is known for the electric atmosphere the fans create and has earned the nickname The Madhouse of Madison. Don’t let the classic architecture fool you; inside, there’s a high-tech arena with top-class amenities, a perfect blend of the old and the new.
We can’t have a list of the most iconic NHL arenas without including Rexall Palace. It’s the third-oldest arena in the NHL, having opened its doors in 1974. At the time, the Edmonton Oilers were part of the WHA. In 1979, they faced the Winnipeg Jets in the Avco Cup Finals, who won the series in six games. At that point, the Oilers decided to join the new NHL starting in 1980. Rexall Palace became the home ground of a new dynasty, with the Edmonton-based team winning four Stanley Cups between 1984 and 1990. Some of the legendary players to grace this field include Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr, and Mark Messier. It doesn’t get more iconic than these names.
The Bell Centre is home to the Montreal Canadiens, the most successful team in the NHL with 25 titles. Compared to the other arenas on this list, this one’s fairly new. It opened its doors in 1996 and has one of the greatest capacities with 21,000 spots. The Bell Center is a shrine to the Canadiens fans and every NHL fan. It’s also a unique structure that makes it an excellent tourist destination.
Now here’s an arena that was demolished decades ago but still has an iconic status. Boston Garden was the abode of the Bruins from 1928 to 1995, having several reconstruction stages that improved the rink and other parts of the arena. The Bruins were the bad boys of the NHL in the 1960s and 1970s, and the Garden was their bloodied battlefield. However, the lack of modern amenities and no air conditioning meant it was due for an upgrade. It closed its doors in 1995 and was demolished in 1998, paving the way for the modern TD Garden.
Before the Bell Center, there was the Montreal Forum. Often regarded as the most storied construction in the history of hockey, it served as the residence of the Montreal Maroons right from 1924-1938, as well as the Canadiens until 1996. The Canadiens made this arena famous, winning the title 22 times at the Forum. Since it was retired in 1996, the zone was reconfigured from the inside, although the iconic exterior still stands.