The Tank in San Jose is tough, but it doesn’t compare to old days

Winger Justin Williams (14) and the Kings found out in Game 3 that gaining a victory at HP Pavilion against defenseman Brad Stuart (7) and the Sharks was not easy.
(Nhat V. Meyer / McClatchy-Tribune)

With the Kings headed to San Jose for Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals Sunday, there has been lots of talk about the Sharks being nearly unbeatable at home this season.

Asked about the challenge of playing at HP Pavilion, also known as the Shark Tank -- with its low ceiling and ear-splitting crowd noise -- Kings Coach Darryl Sutter reminisced about some of the toughest arenas from his playing days.

As a center for the Blackhawks in the 1980s, he logged a lot of hours at Chicago Stadium, where fans got so loud the place would vibrate. Even worse, the rinks there and in Boston Garden were shorter than the current standard of 200 feet.


Which left less room to avoid hits.

“So it’s not about the noise,” Sutter said. “It’s more about the courage.”

For his first game in the NHL, Sutter said he was called up from the New Brunswick Hawks and flew all the way to Los Angeles to face the Kings. The game was played at the Forum.

“Bad ice,” he recalled.

By comparison, the old days make current conditions seem mild.

“If you’re thinking that San Jose is close to that,” he said, “I would say it’s significantly different.”


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