Right Wing Conspiracy is a weekly column about hockey, with the odd hockey-related conspiracy theory thrown in for good measure.
Return of the NHL Weekend Roadie
It’s that time of year, hockey fans: time to start planning your road trips in pursuit of puck. Maybe your goal is to visit all thirty NHL barns, or maybe you just want a hockey-centric weekend getaway; either way, the NHL Weekend Roadie fits the bill. In it, you’ll find a game itinerary, info on where to sleep, eat and get tickets, and tips on getting around. Back after a lengthy absence from this blog, the NHL Weekend Roadie will be a periodic feature going forward.
Opening Weekend: Of Pucks and Fried Foods
The opening faceoff of the 2013-14 NHL season takes place Tuesday, October 1. Plan on burning two vacation days, as your best bet for an opening weekend roadie is in Big D. Fly into Dallas early on Thursday, October 3. And so it begins…
THURSDAY, 3 OCTOBER: FLORIDA @ DALLAS. It’s a new season, so why not check out the new-look Stars? New sweaters, new GM, new coach and new faces, including Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Sergei Gonchar. On the other side of the ice, this will be 2013 Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau’s first visit to Dallas. Though we can’t say for certain at this point (much depends on performances in training camp), this game could feature the NHL debuts of 2013 first round draft picks Valeri Nichushkin (DAL) and Aleksander Barkov (FLA). All in all, it’s a fitting way to kick off the 2013-14 campaign.
FRIDAY, 4 OCTOBER: FRIED FOOD EXTRAVAGANZA. There’s no NHL game within driving distance tonight, so take the day to experience the State Fair of Texas. Imagine your favorite food; now imagine it deep-fried and on a stick. At the fair, your dream (or nightmare) will come true. Fried Snickers bar? Check. Fried cookie dough? Check. Fried butter, alligator or bacon cinnamon roll? Check, check and check. Before you avail yourself of the heart-attack-on-a-stick of your choice, though, be sure to try the granddaddy of ’em all, a Fletcher’s Original Corny Dog. In between bites of unhealthy goodness, you can check out livestock shows, new cars and trucks on display, and a multitude of musical acts. Did you know Molly Ringwald (of Sixteen Candles fame) has launched a singing career? It just so happens the woman Grandpa Fred called “Sammy Baker Davis, Junior” and her jazz quartet will be performing on the fair’s Main Stage Friday night (free with State Fair admission).
If you absolutely must get your hockey fix Friday night, leave the fair early and cruise 2.5 hours up I-35 to Oklahoma City for the Barons’ (Edmonton’s AHL farm club) season opener. As of this writing, the AHL schedule hasn’t been released, so their opponent is unknown. It’s an easy drive, though, and OKC is home to Mutt’s Amazing Hot Dogs, which lives up to its name.
SATURDAY, 5 OCTOBER: WASHINGTON @ DALLAS. Unless you live in the greater DC area, it’s not every day you get to see “The Great 8,” Alex Ovechkin, in person. It’s also not every day one player alone is worth the price of admission. October 5th is not every day. ‘Nuff said.
SUNDAY, 6 OCTOBER: GO HOME – YOU’VE GOT WORK ON MONDAY!
HOTELS – As a rule, I recommend checking Hotwire.com first. Currently, 3- to 4-star hotel rooms in the Dallas area can be had for $60-$120/night on Hotwire. TIP: Don’t book anything under three stars. Ever. Unless you’re okay with haunted showers and bedbugs, of course…but that’s a story for another time.
FLIGHTS – Early October in North Texas is generally warm and sunny, so weather-caused delays shouldn’t be an issue when flying into DFW. As a general rule, though, if you must fly in on game day, catch an early morning flight. You can always take a pre-game nap at the hotel. For the best deals on flights, Airfarewatchdog.com can’t be beat. Also, two one-way tickets can sometimes be cheaper than one roundtrip fare, so check that angle, too.
FOOD – State Fair aside, Texas is known for two kinds of food: barbecue and Tex-Mex. For the best ‘cue in the Dallas area, head to the suburb of Coppell to experience the joys of Hard Eight BBQ. Gaze directly into the pit and make your selection(s); the pitmaster will happily carve the myriad of meats any way you please. Want a half-pound of this and a slice of that? No problem. Save room for the jalepeño cream corn!
GETTING AROUND – The Metroplex is rather spread out, so a rental car is highly recommended. To get to both the American Airlines Center and the State Fair, however, save yourself both traffic headaches and parking fees and take the cheap and convenient DART rail. At just $5 for an unlimited-ride day pass, the train can’t be beat.
There you have it: a quick roadie to kick off the new season. Two games. Stars, superstars and future stars. The State Fair of Texas. Fletcher’s Corny Dogs. Molly Ringwald. What more do you want? It’s time to make reservations.