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Non Standard NHL Rink Sizes


MTH

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In the day, the Boston Garden, Buffalo Aud and Chicago Stadium were notorious for many great things but one thing they all had in common were their rinks. All three were not the normal 200' long by 85' wide.

Every time your team you followed played there, the announcers would point out the rink dimensions and how the game play was altered.

Character of those places was simply enhanced by the rink within. Something that I do wish that the NHL would encourage ever so slightly... but never will.

For the record, the rinks were sized:

  • Boston Garden: 191' long and 83' wide
  • Buffalo Aud: 196' long by 85' wide
  • Chicago Stadium: 185' long by 85' wide.

Anyone know how the shortening was compensated for? I don't recall myself - was it taken out of the neutral zones?

I know with the economics of the game, smaller rinks would eliminate seats, etc. Why I think the NHL should allow stadiums a maximum variance of 7.5%. This means that the 185' long rink would be ok - as well as a 215' long rink. The width could shrink to 79' or go up to 91'. Standard Olympic rink is 200' by 100'.

One thing to consider is that a bigger rink can fit more seats around the edge.

NHL's current rinks are as bland as ever. Much like the league.

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Another wonderful thing Chicago Stadium had too - there were stairs down to the lock rooms. In the day, the visitors locker was always through the door at the end of the rink - either the Zamboni door or a separate door. When Kimble gets booted, you see him exit and run down the stairs. Crazy to think about it now.

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19 minutes ago, MTH said:

Another wonderful thing Chicago Stadium had too - there were stairs down to the lock rooms. In the day, the visitors locker was always through the door at the end of the rink - either the Zamboni door or a separate door. When Kimble gets booted, you see him exit and run down the stairs. Crazy to think about it now.

Hockey the way it was MEANT to be played! Boris Bettman has ruined it!!! Maybe someone needs to give Boris an open ice hit the next time he slithers onto the ice.

Thanks for reminding me how great hockey USED to be. 

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Up until recently when Belleville still had an OHL team, they were the only team in the league with an Olympic sized rink. 

I don't know if the Sens affiliate plays in the same place now or not. 

I would definitely welcome some variability making its way back. Maybe not to the level of MLB fields, but something. 

A guy I played shinny with a while back told us about a rink he played at while teaching in Korea that had a support piller ON the ice that you had to skate around

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When the original Boston Garden closed, I was in college and worked at the New Garden (then named the FleetCenter) it's opening season and for a number of years after.  One big factor was the Old Garden seating was so steep and the balcony overhung the lower level that it felt like the fans were right on top of the players.  This made for a pretty hostile environment for visiting teams (nevermind the fact that the stands could generally be hostile).

Once the FleetCenter opened, fans complained that it didn't feel the same and they could never make enough noise like in the old Garden.

Also, I think the old Garden (aside from being smaller), had asymetrical bench placement which I think gave the Bruins an advantage when changing.

Looking back, I wonder if teams with smaller rinks had worse road records or played different systems when at home and on the road.  It's funny, it's seems so long ago that I don't remember it that well.  Then again, I was in college so it may have been all the alcohol that makes it hard to remember.

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Most, if not all of the rinks that were not standard sized are gone from the NHL. The non-standard rinks were, in many cases, a result of the building being not purpose-built for an ice rink. I think of the old St.Louis Arena; it was a venue for a cattle show before it was an NHL rink. I think that the “official” rink size became a default because for the most part, the area to make an ice surface was consistent between all of the old buildings, again, not necessarily purpose-built as NHL rinks.

I like the idea of variety of sizes and amenities throughout the NHL, myself. Locker rooms below the ice surface? Very cool. But the unfortunate thing that since these buildings are made as purpose-built facilities, consistency will become default. 

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14 hours ago, MTH said:

I stumbled into a YouTube wormhole of Chicago Stadium Organ music.

Those old, beautiful organs are gone, too! Most did concede to the age of synthesisers, but pipe organ was very much the soul of the sound. I am certain some NHL rinks may have bits and pieces of pipe organ set ups, but because of all of the different multi media interlude music styles within one game, the pipe organ is a very small part of the music now.

In my days of being a working musician, I ended up playing with a guy who was the “organist” at a minor-league ball park. I say “organist” because he also had to play sound effects and acted as a DJ. He did much, much more than merely play the organ. It seems very similar to what an NHL organist does. That guy was talented as hell; FAR more talented than all of us put together, and yet the lead guitar player was such a bag of shower towards him (douche bag). 

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Shortening was usually taken out of the Neutral zones, with some rinks taking a very small amount out of the attacking zone as well.

Also remember the home team used to have their bench on the same side of the ice as the penalty box.  This made for quick substitutions after penalties expired for the home team.  When the NHL made teams have both benches on the same side, they just converted the Penalty Box into the visiting bench.  This usually resulted in a MUCH smaller bench for the visiting team.

I remember when I rode the pine with a WHL team back in 88/89, the visitors bench in Portland, Oregon only had one gate.  And the old Mercer St Arena in Seattle had CRAZY almost 90 degree corners.  Zamboni could not even get into the corner properly.

Many of the older Junior rinks still have the benches on opposite sides of the ice.

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1 hour ago, Naz said:

Shortening was usually taken out of the Neutral zones, with some rinks taking a very small amount out of the attacking zone as well.

Also remember the home team used to have their bench on the same side of the ice as the penalty box.  This made for quick substitutions after penalties expired for the home team.  When the NHL made teams have both benches on the same side, they just converted the Penalty Box into the visiting bench.  This usually resulted in a MUCH smaller bench for the visiting team.

I remember when I rode the pine with a WHL team back in 88/89, the visitors bench in Portland, Oregon only had one gate.  And the old Mercer St Arena in Seattle had CRAZY almost 90 degree corners.  Zamboni could not even get into the corner properly.

Many of the older Junior rinks still have the benches on opposite sides of the ice.

I love some of the craziness of the old rinks. Of course one I rink I used to play in was converted indoor football (soccer), so it was super narrow AND short! Neutral zone was literally 15’ long!!!! That was a fun rink, despite the dashers being 4’6” tall!!!! Made for short, aggressive play that almost always led to a bench-clearing brawl!!!!

Yes- I remember quite well when the home bench and penalty boxes were on the same side and the visitor’s bench was on the other side; how ‘boot when the penalty box doors did not have glass?!? That was always fun!!!!

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28 minutes ago, bunnyman666 said:

how ‘boot when the penalty box doors did not have glass?!? That was always fun!!!!

Or when the glass was low on the side boards and the refs and linesmen used to grab the top of the glass and jump out of the way of the play.

My first year with my Junior team in Prince George back in 89/90, there was no glass on one side of the ice between the blue lines.  Our fans used to grab players along the boards and do all sorts of things.  Needless to say, our barn was VERY intimidating place to play!

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19 minutes ago, Naz said:

Or when the glass was low on the side boards and the refs and linesmen used to grab the top of the glass and jump out of the way of the play.

My first year with my Junior team in Prince George back in 89/90, there was no glass on one side of the ice between the blue lines.  Our fans used to grab players along the boards and do all sorts of things.  Needless to say, our barn was VERY intimidating place to play!

My stick (as well as my helmet) got grabbed more than once in rinks like that!!!! I was a pest left winger before I played goal; needless to say I was not a popular player, so I was targeted in places like that! In all, it was fun as hell!!! I miss those days... Thanks for walking me down memory lane!

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4 hours ago, Naz said:

Shortening was usually taken out of the Neutral zones, with some rinks taking a very small amount out of the attacking zone as well.

Also remember the home team used to have their bench on the same side of the ice as the penalty box.  This made for quick substitutions after penalties expired for the home team.  When the NHL made teams have both benches on the same side, they just converted the Penalty Box into the visiting bench.  This usually resulted in a MUCH smaller bench for the visiting team.

I remember when I rode the pine with a WHL team back in 88/89, the visitors bench in Portland, Oregon only had one gate.  And the old Mercer St Arena in Seattle had CRAZY almost 90 degree corners.  Zamboni could not even get into the corner properly.

Many of the older Junior rinks still have the benches on opposite sides of the ice.

Yep... still that way here.!!

4A257450-C66C-4223-B0E5-B6E4CB12CCDC.jpeg

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The bench placement game was just more character. 

Even the gates onto the benches were quite slim in the day. I figure now that the NHL rink everywhere is built by the same company. So all bounces and all are the same everywhere you play.

The benches at Joe Louis Arena were pretty short. I know they only went to the blue line. Everywhere else they're longer. Although the Leafs stadium has extended benches where fans can sit "on the bench" I think.

JLA:

DetroitRedWings.PaulSwaney.jpg

New rink:

Little-Caesars-Arena-Section-Mezzanine-1

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  • 1 month later...

Watching some old highlights at MLG.

I thought only the Montreal Forum had the isles from the stands go into the player benches. Not true, the isles at MLG also went to the benches. No glass behind the Leafs bench, and very short behind the visitors.

I think the benches at the Forum in LA were like this too.

MLG:

image.

Montreal:

patburns.jpeg

You can see that they's position an usher at the end of the stairs - but as a fan sitting there? Amazing spot.

593482582001_3892301085001_video-still-f

head-coach-pat-burns-of-the-montreal-can

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LA Forum had elevated seats behind the bench with the iron railing (gold). 

M4KDS5ILLZGD7MWUPK3XTTTYQU.jpg

They'd later erect glass behind the bench in front of the railing (now painted orange):

canadian-ice-hockey-coach-barry-melrose-

Glass was to keep Barry's hair from hitting the folks in the front row.

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59 minutes ago, MTH said:

Watching some old highlights at MLG.

I thought only the Montreal Forum had the isles from the stands go into the player benches. Not true, the isles at MLG also went to the benches. No glass behind the Leafs bench, and very short behind the visitors.

I think the benches at the Forum in LA were like this too.

MLG:

image.

Montreal:

patburns.jpeg

You can see that they's position an usher at the end of the stairs - but as a fan sitting there? Amazing spot.

593482582001_3892301085001_video-still-f

head-coach-pat-burns-of-the-montreal-can

I was lucky enough to go to a game at MLG when I was a kid and sit in those gold seats.  I remember walking past Pat Quinn to get to the stands.  Such an unreal experience.

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