Saturday, July 1, 2017

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario: Essar Centre

I don't want to say Sault Ste. Marie loves hockey, but ...

The main rink/arena for the city is located on Ron Francis Way in the downtown area.

Now, Ron was a heck of a player for a long time, and an admirable person as well. As of this writing he is Carolina's general manager. Francis also grew up in the Soo, so this is an appropriate honor.

As for the Essar Centre, it's about a block from the waterfront in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. You can't get much more convenient than that, especialy if you are visting. The building was put up in 2006, and seats almost 5,000. The primary tenant is the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League - and you have to admit that's a great nickname.

There's some history connected to hockey in the Soo. Phil and Tony Esposito grew up here, and Wayne Gretzky played here as a junior briefly. But the photo shows four big names with numbers hanging from the rafters - Francis, Adam Foote, John Vanbiesbrouch, and Craig Hartsburg. (Gretzky's number 99 isn't shown, but he's up there too.

It doesn't look like there's a bad seat in the place. When we were there, people were getting some walking in by doing laps of the concourse. Maybe when they were done, they stopped and looked at the hockey hall of fame for the region, which includes former Sabres' coach Ted Nolan.

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