Mike Harrington's Stick Taps: New NHL rinks, when the Sabres visit them & more - The Buffalo News

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Mike Harrington's Stick Taps: New NHL rinks, when the Sabres visit them & more

The NHL will introduce two new rinks this season, with Little Caesars Arena taking over from Joe Louis Arena as the home of Detroit the Red Wings and T-Mobile Arena playing host to the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

Little Caesars, named for the pizza chain founded by the family of late Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, is located in the same downtown district that features Ford Field (Lions) and Comerica Park (Tigers). The $863 million facility will also be the home of the NBA's Detroit Pistons, who will be back downtown for the first time since leaving Cobo Hall in 1978.

Little Caesars will be notable for its glass-roofed concourse that connects it to surrounding offices and shops and will be open year round, even when there is not an event. The seating bowl has a large lower level and a steep pitch throughout, reminiscent of the Bell Centre in Montreal, and the league's largest center-hung scoreboard at 5,100 square feet. Joe Louis Arena, located on the Detroit River, is slated to be demolished and redeveloped into a hotel and retail complex.

For those familiar with the Las Vegas Strip, T-Mobile Arena is located behind the New York-New York and Monte Carlo casinos. It opened 18 months ago and has been primarily used for concerts and some sporting events, the most noteworthy being the Mayweather-McGregor fight in August. The capacity for hockey is just under 18,000 and the arena has a 2-acre outdoor plaza for pregame and postgame gatherings.

Hosting the Sabres

The Sabres make their first trip to T-Mobile Arena on Oct. 17 and play in Little Caesars Arena on Nov. 17 and Feb. 22. They will become the 73rd and 74th facilities at which Buffalo has played an NHL game.

The road rinks that have hosted the Sabres the most times in the regular season are Madison Square Garden (87 games) and three demolished or repurposed buildings -- Boston Garden (81), Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena (81) and the Montreal Forum (80). Their most road wins are the 34 at Nassau Coliseum, former home of the Islanders, 33 at MSG and 32 at the Bell Centre.

The Sabres have played one time in seven facilities -- Rogers Place in Edmonton, which opened last year; Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland and O2 World Arena in Berlin, Germany (2011 Premier Games); Expo Hall in Tampa, Target Center in Minneapolis, ARCO Arena in Sacramento and Orlando Arena. The latter three were home for the neutral site games the league used to play in the early 90s.

Elsewhere on the arena front

* Scottrade Center in St. Louis is undergoing a three-year, $165 million renovation with the first phase unveiled for this season including a new scoreboard. The building was opened in 1994, two years before the Sabres opened Key Bank Center.

* Toronto's Air Canada Centre will keep its name for this season but will be renamed Scotiabank Arena starting for the 2018-19 season under a new $800 million rights deal. Fans are imploring the team and bank to change the name to "Scotiabank Gardens" in homage to Maple Leaf Gardens, the Leafs' home until 1999.

* Calgary's Scotiabank Saddledome, built in 1983 for the 1988 Winter Olympics, is now the oldest NHL arena that has not undergone major renovation. The Flames and government officials in Calgary continue to bicker over a new arena that could cost in the $600 million range.

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