Hockey Christmas Picture

Around the Arena: NHL Xmas Shutdown

Unfortunately for hockey fans, their favourite NHL teams will be taking a short hiatus this upcoming week. This can be a sad time for us hockey lovers that watch games on a seemingly daily basis, no matter what teams are playing. It is the opposite of other holidays like Thanksgiving, during which matinee matches allow for the perfect opportunity to spend some real quality time with the family by watching some hockey. This hiatus has become more prevalent in impact to the avid hockey fans life since the shutdown was expanded during the last CBA contract negotiations in 2012-2013. Alas, TV screens will stay dark and not be graced with the wonderful sights and sounds that NHL hockey brings to our living rooms during the upcoming 3 day NHL shutdown that starts the day before Christmas and ends after the Boxing Day holiday in Canada.

The NHL Xmas shutdown also affects those of us in fantasy hockey leagues as the week becomes what I call a “Short Week”. These “Short Weeks” can wreck havoc on a fantasy team so check out some advice I wrote on Fantasy Hockey Short Weeks back during Thanksgiving, the first short week of the fantasy hockey season. You can find the article in my Four Fantasy Hockey Footnotes series here. And just a reminder, all Yahoo Fantasy Hockey Leagues will be dropping the 3 goaltender appearance requirement for the xmas “short” week. This is forced by Yahoo and cannot be changed manually so play accordingly.

So what is the avid hockey fan to do during this year’s NHL Xmas Shutdown? Other than worrying about if your fantasy hockey team can survive the sprint that is the short fantasy week, why not head outside to play some pond hockey with your buds. If you need some inspiration for places to play some classic pond hockey check out my list of top pond hockey rinks here.

Lake Louise
Pick-up game of hockey at Lake Louise Rink, Alberta. Photo by: basesproduced.com

Another great way to spend some time during the NHL Xmas Shutdown is to do some NHL Arena sightseeing. With no practices or games taking place at the arenas around the NHL, the arenas become a ghost town. It’s the perfect time to get some photos up-close without an entire crowd in the way. Of course you probably won’t be able to get inside the arena but there is still a plethora of iconic photos you can take from the outside of all NHL Arenas. For example, there is nothing quite like being the only person on the infamous steps up to the doors of Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. If you don’t know what I am talking about check it out here. And although you can’t see the inside while the arenas are closed this Xmas shutdown, below are some awesome empty NHL Arena photos for you to look at. There is something surreal about the peacefulness of an empty arena. An empty arena seems to almost become a monument, kind of like the Coliseum in Rome.

An empty TD Garden. Photo by: rantsports.com
An empty TD Garden. Photo by: rantsports.com
Joe Louis Arena
An empty Joe Louis Arena. Photo by: othlredwings.blogspot.com

Jobing.com Arena
An empty Jobing.com arena. Photo by: theatlantic.com
2014 Winter Classic
Michigan Stadium stands empty as it awaits playing host to the 2014 NHL Winter Classic. Photo by: freep.com

And if none of the above options will quench your hunger for a hockey filled Xmas this year, you can always partake in a great tradition that many Canadian families practice during the days around Xmas; the IIHF World Juniors. The International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Junior Championship is a great tournament held around Christmas each year that showcases the best young hockey talent from around the world. Canadians naturally have added this into the void created due to the extended NHL Xmas shutdown but I highly suggest to those of us south of the border to give the IIHF World Juniors a bigger look this holiday season. Its a great opportunity to see some of the future players of the NHL as most will end up playing in the U.S.A. since most NHL teams are stateside. There is a good chance that some of the names heard throughout the IIHF World Juniors will become household names in both Canadian and American households in the years to come, so you might as well share in the excitement of the future by watching the IIHF World Juniors during this year’s NHL Xmas shutdown.

2015 IIHF WJC
The 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship will be held in Toronto & Montreal, Canada. Photo by: hockeycanada.ca

So if during this upcoming week’s NHL Xmas Shutdown you begin to feel an internal sadness from lack of NHL hockey stimulation, just remember there are some antidotes out there. Whether it is playing a pick-up game of hockey with some buds, over-thinking your strategy for fantasy hockey during the short week,  partaking in a pilgrimage to your favourite NHL hockey arena, or watching the future players of the NHL in the 2015 IIHF World Juniors, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! (And boy am I happy that the NHL Winter Classic is on New Year’s Day. I don’t know if I could deal with 2 NHL holiday shutdowns in a row.)

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