Recently, a fan from Edmonton has undertaken a plan to visit all 30 NHL arenas in the last 30 days of the NHL season. He recently made his stop in Newark for the Devils-Ducks game last Sunday, March 29th.
Rob Suggitt, who works as the co-president of an Edmonton magazine publisher, had had a dream for many years that involved visiting each NHL city and seeing a game in each team’s home rink. His trip, which is chronicled on his website (www.30games-30nights.com) has been in the works for years. According to his site, Suggitt originally began to plan the trip for the 2004-05 season (the one that was cancelled due to the work stoppage). Over the years, it had been start and stop for one reason or another, but ten years after he had first planned to do the trip, he is finally going through with it.
Although Suggitt is doing this for fun, a sort of “bucket list” check off, he is also doing it for a good cause. He is taking helping to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation through donations on his website as well as other means. For instance, the Devils donated a Patrik Elias signed authentic jersey that he will be auctioning off (he did something similar with other teams including Arizona, Calgary and Montreal).
Suggitt mentions on his site (as well as in two interviews on the Devils’ website) that he grew up a Montreal Canadiens fan in Edmonton and became a fan of the Oilers upon their arrival in the city. However he did not see his first game live in person until he was 20 years-old in the 1980s. This is one reason why this trip has been a dream of his for some time. He settled on the last 30 days of the season because he felt that this is the most exciting time of the year to watch a game, with playoff races going on in each conference and division. He decided on this season because of the NHL’s intent to expand in the next few years. After all, “32 games in 32 nights” just does not have the same ring to it, he notes on his site.
He began the trip on March 13th at the Nassau Coliseum to take in the Islanders versus the Senators and will conclude on April 11th in Toronto to see the Maple Leafs take on the Canadiens on Hockey Night in Canada. In between, he has and will watch a game from each NHL rink. He actually saw the Devils play twice, as game/day number 16 was in Raleigh to see the Devils and the Hurricanes followed by game number 17 at Prudential Center to take in the Devils-Ducks game.
Along the way, he will travel by plane most of the time (his shortest flight is from Pittsburgh to Buffalo, while his longest is Nashville to San Jose), will make a few trips by car and made one trip by train (from Madison Square Garden to Philadelphia). He hit the Florida teams in succession (Florida was stop number 7, Tampa number 8), as well as the Western Canadian teams (Edmonton was 11, Vancouver 12, Calgary 13 and Winnipeg 14) and the California teams (San Jose will be number 20, Los Angeles 21 and Anaheim 22). In total he will travel a total of 23,521 miles.
He has stated that the biggest highlights of his trip have been and will be seeing the Original Six teams (he was especially impressed by the Garden) and seeing the Bruins play on St. Patrick’s Day. As he states on his site, he had never been to Boston and what better time to see the Bruins play than on St. Patrick’s Day?
Teams have been treating him well wherever he has gone. In addition to teams donating items for him to auction off for charity, there have been other perks. The Tampa Bay Lightning made him their “social captain” for the night and gave him complementary tickets for the game he saw against Detroit there. In thank you to the Bolts, he donated the face value of the tickets to Make-A-Wish. In New Jersey, the Devils donated $3,354 from their nightly 50/50 towards his goal of $30,000. As of his game in New Jersey, Suggitt said that he is at $17,000 in his efforts for Make-A-Wish, on pace to make his goal. At the Devils game, Colin White was on hand to help introduce him and his cause to fans live at the game.
Although Suggitt is an Oilers fan, he says that he has become more of a fan of the game over the years. He says on his website that, since players change teams so much and teams are always moving up and down the standings each season, he always finds himself rooting for a new team each year, especially in the playoffs. In an interview with Gordy Stillman on the Devils website, he mentions that his favorite Devils player is Patrik Elias.
Suggitt mentioned that one of the things he has liked the most about his trip is participating in fan customs in each city. From cheering and making noise during the national anthem during a Blackhawks game to sampling food in each arena (he is trying to keep healthy by eating right for his first two meals of the day and working out in his hotel’s gyms) to trying to stay at a downtown hotel in order to get some of the “local flavor” of the city that he is in despite his limited time in each city.
Not only is this a great “once in a lifetime” trip for a hockey fan, Rob Suggitt has been able to make it into something more than just a great time for a fan. He has turned his lifelong dream trip into something that is giving back to the community.