Sunday, May 25, 2008

I know where the bay is. Where's the hockey?

Last night was game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings. As far as the local heroes go, the beloved Lightning were not a factor this year and didn't even make the playoffs. The Lightning's marketing department has devoted a great deal of effort to try to band the area as Hockey Bay USA. I don't know about that but we did win the cup in 2004 and have been pretty competetive for the last few seasons prior to this one during which fan support has been pretty good so I thought hockey had finally taken root here. Taking all those factors into consideration, when a companion and I found ourselves downtown, the very heart of Hockey Bay, last night, we couldn't imagine having trouble finding a place to watch the game...

  • First stop: Hattricks - I love Hattricks. It's one of my top ten favorite local places and Tampa's only real bar & restaurant for hockey fans. The problem is it's not a very large place and when it fills up, it's full. To the point where you literally can not move. Such was the case last night. We were disappointed but not terribly surprised, as anybody who wants to go out and watch hockey should make Hattricks their first (and probably, only) stop. We didn't want to deal with the mob scene so we moved on.
  • Second stop: Andreychuk's - The namesake tavern and eatery of former Lightning captain and future hall of famer Dave Andreychuk is directly across the street from the St. Pete Times Forum, home of the Lightning...and it was closed. That's right, a bar named after an all time hockey great across the street from the arena where he won a Stanley Cup himself four years ago, where incidentally an event with over 10,000 spectators in attendance (Alicia Keys in concert) was taking place, was CLOSED on a Saturday night when Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals was on. Go ahead and take a few minutes to let your mind stop boggling before we move on.
  • Third stop: The Hut - Next door to Andreychuk's is The Hut, which used to be known as Newk's until owner Jack Newkirk sold it a few years ago. Back then, this place was great. Wonderful atmosphere, really good food, fantastic service and lots of fun. Now, it isn't. There was no air conditioning, we were completely ignored by all waitstaff and every tv was tuned to some ultimate fighting pay per view thing. We were there about five minutes before we bailed.
  • Not a stop but we passed by, Hooters - Hooters was packed and I looked through the windows and didn't see the game on any of the tv's. Besides, you have to be in a certain mood to eat the food at Hooters, the kind of mood where you have zero regard for your cholesterol level whatsoever.
  • Fourth and final stop, Bennigan's - I've mentioned previously that I'm not a big fan of these kinds of places. But at least we finally found a place that served food and had the game on a tv. As in one, singular television out of about 20. But that was better than we'd found anywhere else so we took it. As we sat there eating dinner, we were both getting dripped on from the ceiling. There was no water hitting the table, meaning there were two leaks positioned perfectly to hit the diners on either side. The ceiling is about 20 feet high in there so the water had some velocity behind it and was making a big wet splash every time it hit us. I brought this to the attention of our waiter who laughed and said, "you should see the size of the puddle over there! That's where it really comes down." Not exactly the reaction I was expecting. I didn't know going in search of Hockey Bay USA would mean actually getting drenched in the process.


citizen jane said...

OK, that's just sad.

While not a devout hockey fan, I would have felt the same way had I been looking for the Celtics' playoff game that same night (especially since they finally won one on the road) and come up empty -- especially for that ridiculous ultimate fighting nonsense.

I at least hope your drinks were cold.

Why, it's Clark! said...

Jane: Yes, the drinks were cold. the food wasn't so hot either. Hi-yo!!