Around The League In 31 Days: Radio Host to Visit All NHL Arenas in a Month

It’s a feat that few fans, if any, have ever accomplished. It will be a grueling task, one that will require a firm resolve and that will truly test one fan’s love for the sport of hockey. Many people have dreamed of one day visiting every arena in the NHL, fewer have brought that dream to fruition. But tomorrow, November 16, Rob Simpson, co-host of the NHL Network Radio show “Stellick and Simmer”, will embark on a quest to visit all 31 NHL arenas in just 31 days, starting at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, as the Stars host the Boston Bruins. And it only gets crazier from there.

When asked why he felt the need to undertake this task,  told reporters from The Athletic,

Not only because it’s there but also because of a longstanding love for the game, the buildings, the travel, the culture, and the concept. I need a break from the norm and this is the most effective way to take one. It’s also a wonderful way to further lose my marbles.

They say that when you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. That statement could not be more true for Rob Simpson as he prepares to travel across the North American continent to see an NHL game played in every team’s home arena.

Simpson confesses he isn’t sure how much he’s going to love the novelty of his journey when he’s up at 4:00 and 5:00 A.M. to catch flights, and even more so when there isn’t any downtime after a game to relax. Several nights will consist of him leaving an arena and booking it to the nearest airport and checking into the next hotel before being able to get any rest. Not exactly the “kick back and relax” type of vacation many of us are accustomed to. He also added that he has 10 or 12 book signings in queue while he’s on this month-long road trip.

One concern Simpson has is how permissible traveling will be while moving around to all sorts of climates. He cites that it would be rather amusing to not be able to get from Dallas to Calgary (his second stop is Scotiabank Saddledome, home of the Flames) due to inclement weather in the Alberta area. But he is prepared to move things around to keep his schedule as close to the plan as possible.

I’ll fly to Salt Lake City, puddle jump to Great Falls, drive to Lethbridge, and snowmobile the rest of the way. Whatever it takes. That’s how my brain is designed,” he said.

While on this trek across the hockey kingdom, he’ll see the Oilers more than any other team; he’ll watch a total of five games featuring the Edmonton club. He says he’s looking forward to spending some time with an old buddy of his, Jack Michaels, who is the voice of the Oilers’ Radio Network. As it turns out, when one works in the business of profession sports, you become fairly well acquainted with people from all over the world. Imagine being able to travel across the continental US and Canada, and being able to pop in and visit some old friends every step of the way. One can only imagine how great of a trip this could actually be. Especially getting to reunite with friends you haven’t seen in a long time, be them personal or professional friends. Simpson has a few of each on the radar for himself. This will become, I’m sure, a facet of the trip he’s looking forward to. One would assume that being on the road all alone for a whole month would prove to be a rather lonely experience if there wasn’t good company waiting for you at at least a handful of your destinations.

He then pointed out that one of his best friends lives just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada along with his wife, child, and whole family. They are taking Rob in for three days and letting him use their home as his own, all the while, he’ll be traveling to see the Vegas Golden Knights and the Arizona Coyotes before heading east. There are no games on November 22, it being Thanksgiving in the United States, so he will arrive at his friend’s home then, go into Vegas for the Golden Knights game the following day, and take off for Glendale, Arizona on November 24. To keep up with the 31-in-31 theme, Simpson will be seeing not one, but two games on December 1, one in Ottawa with the Senators taking on the San Jose Sharks, and one in Montreal with the Canadiens squaring off against the New York Rangers. What a life!

For those keeping track, the NHL Radio host will be seeing the Capitals play twice on his journey; he’ll visit Capital One Arena on November 30 when they host the New Jersey Devils, and he’ll see them again on December 14 when they meet the Hurricanes in North Carolina. His journey will conclude just two days later, on December 16 in New England where the Bruins will host the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

Simpson took a moment to explain that he planned his trip on a tight budget, and it still came out to be a fairly pricey endeavor. With travel and hotel accommodations out of the way, and before the price of tickets is factored in, the trip comes out to roughly $8,000 to $10,000; in Canadian currency, that is. The higher end of that translates to roughly $7,600 in American dollars. Though we can’t say for sure that he won’t have to pay for any tickets, it does seem he’ll be able to get into a least a few of them without having to pay admission. It must be really nice to be an NHL employee!

As his interview came to end, Rob Simpson left us with these words of wisdom, advice for those of us who may consider taking the plunge into a 31-in-31 challenge of our own.

My first two pieces of advice for anyone attempting this adventure in the future is to not host a radio show and don’t do book signings. Just fly around, eat, drink, and go to the games. The rest of my advice will have to come when this thing is over. It’s going to get crazy, at times I’ll be dizzy with exhaustion, and patience will truly be a virtue. But it’s worth it. Not because it’s there, but because it’s hockey.

By: Chris Laroche

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