It’s a story that’s been told a thousand times over; how the atmosphere at T-Mobile Arena for Golden Knights games surprises even veteran players in the NHL. Recently though the story has almost become worn out as the same comments, same examples, and same quotes from players, coaches, and fans are muttered after each and every game.
Alex Ovechkin to the rescue.
It’s not a regular rink. It’s kind of like an unbelievable show, you get excited. It’s like you’re in a nightclub. It’s like a party. Everybody dancing over there. It’s like, ‘Holy Jesus, are we in a hockey game or is this like a pool party out there?’ They’re very, very tough to play against. They jump in right away. They have tremendous skill and tremendous speed. When you’re not ready, you’re going to be in a tough position. -Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
The timing of the “Holy Jesus” quote was fortunate for me as it came just days before I was set to travel to Washington DC to experience the difference Ovechkin was talking about myself.
Let’s start with the very first difference, specifically for fans. Getting to the T-Mobile Arena and walking through The Park is unmatched. DC’s set up actually is pretty nice as a train station arrives right on the corner of the arena, there’s a lobby where people were held before the gates open to escape the rain, and there’s a full sports bar attached to the arena itself. It’s nice, but it’s not Vegas.
Then you go into the arena. The first time at a hockey game where the in-arena experience really begins is with the player warm-ups. In Vegas, they count it down, demand the fans get up and cheer, then play John Wick Mode followed by a club-style music mix that’s so loud it’s challenging to talk to the person in the seat directly beside you. Contrast that to Capital One Arena, where the lights are darkened, a minor light show occurs, the players take the ice and the music is softer than I listen to in my car. The same was the case in Anaheim and Dallas. Los Angeles may have actually outdone Vegas with this light show.