WINNIPEG, MB - OCTOBER 11: The puck drops in first period action of an NHL game between the Dallas Stars and the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre on October 11, 2013 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

The NHL is an inclusive league and, for the most part, the fans of the league are a big group of crap talking, partially drunk, fun loving people. There is the odd fan here and there that can break that trend, but it’s not frequent enough to call it a problem. On top of the fans being great to be around, there are a few select NHL Arenas that are great for experiencing the game of hockey. These NHL arenas will be based off location in the city, the fans in the arena, and the atmosphere the organization brings to the arena.

Top Five NHL Arenas

5. Bridgestone Arena – Nashville Predators

Bridgestone Arena is a beautiful arena that any fan of any sport would love to soak in. Bridgestone is located right in the downtown center of a beautiful city in Nashville, Tennessee, sitting right on Broadway. You can take a nice stroll down the road and soak in all the honkeytonk atmosphere of the city before and after the game happens.

It’s a comfortable arena to view a game in, and the atmosphere is electric for more than one reason. The fans are noisy and involved, for the most part, and the organization capitalizes on the energy by constantly having the rink shaking with music, activations during intermissions, and interesting and fun things to do in the walkways when getting food and drink. Because of all of these, Bridgestone Arena is rightly in the top five NHL Arenas.

4. SAP Center – San Jose Sharks

The SAP Center is also on this list for multiple reasons, but doesn’t have enough to warrant a top three spot on this list. The fact that it’s centrally located between multiple centers of population, and right in the center of multiple major highways makes it relatively easy to get to for most of the fans within driving distance. Aside from that, it’s just an overall nice looking arena in a great city.

The biggest reason the SAP Center is on this list, however, is the fact that it has some of the best atmosphere in the entire NHL. The fans are loud, and always filling up the seats as well. It’s an intimidating atmosphere, created both by the fans and the organization, and it’s one that you cannot replicate anywhere else. For this reason the fans and the organization should be applauded for getting the SAP Center among the top five NHL Arenas.

3. Staples Center – Los Angeles Kings

The Staples Center makes this list mainly for two reasons: 1) it is a beautiful arena, and it’s arguably the best looking one in the league, and 2) the location is perfect in one of the biggest and most visited cities in the United States. These two factors, accompanied by a couple of Stanley Cups, is why the Kings consistently fill up the seats and have a great atmosphere.

The one reason that the Staples Center is lower on this list than some may argue is primarily due to ticket pricing. While you may get to watch some great hockey, be in a great part of the city, and experience an awesome atmosphere, it’s going to cost you a metaphorical “arm and leg” to do so.

2. Bell Centre – Montreal Canadiens

It’s hard to down play, and extremely easy to sell, the fantastic atmosphere in the city of Montreal. The people, especially the Canadiens faithful, are a lively bunch in a great city to live in, or even to visit for fans of opposing teams making the trip. With so much history in the city in the sport of hockey, it’s impossible to not feel at awe when paying a visit to the Bell Centre.

The Habs consistently sell out home games, and they have some of the most loyal and loudest fans in the league. It’s a great arena, albeit not the best looking, and the atmosphere the fans bring to it makes it a fantastic sporting event to attend for anyone. Be prepared to run into more than one comment about the glory days, but that shouldn’t keep you from having the Bell Centre on your bucket list.

1. MTS Centre – Winnipeg Jets

The MTS Centre is another beautiful arena, from the outside, but doesn’t quite hold up to the likes of the Staples Center or Bridgestone Arena for the inside. There are slightly more options and activations at the aforementioned locations than at MTS, which isn’t enough of an argument to have them about the MTS Centre. However, what the MTS Centre lacks in that area it makes up for in ease of access. You can get into the MTS Centre without ever really having to experience the cold of a Winnipeg winter, a unique characteristic for the arena.

The biggest reason the MTS Centre comes in at the top of the list is the atmosphere around and inside the building during game days. The atmosphere

the Winnipeg hockey fans bring is unrivaled, and often spoken about as one of the most loyal and loudest fan bases in North American professional sports. The atmosphere is so strong and impressive that it’s darn near impossible to not have the MTS Centre listed as the best NHL arena.

Honourable Mention

Nationwide Arena – Columbus Blue Jackets

The Arena District in Columbus is a beautiful area of the city, and it’s a fun one to be a part of during game day. On top of the really nice surroundings, the arena itself is beautiful, depending on if you like the red brick style of buildings. Another strong point for Columbus is the wide concourses and plethora of activations before, during, and after the games that keep the fans involved and energetic. The organization really does a great job of making the Blue Jackets’ games a great experience for the entire family.

The one major point against Nationwide Arena, and the main reason it was beat out by Bridgestone Arena, is the inconsistency in the fan attendance and atmosphere. Columbus hockey fans, for the most part, are a fickle bunch that don’t always show up. Despite the organization having a great atmosphere, and strong attendance relative to their history, this season, it’s just not a big enough sample size to include them in the top five NHL Arenas.

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