Good morning, St. Paul, and good morning, Insiders.
Finally, I’ll address the question you’ve all desperately – wantonly – asked and have called out in the middle of the night for years upon years.
What makes a good road hotel?
There are a number of criteria that go into determining this. Among them:
-Distance to the arena
-Comfortable room and functional WiFi
-Quality hotel restaurant and cozy bar
Sadly, this room is free of a Munters View. But the team hotel in St. Paul checks virtually all other boxes. It’s very close to the arena, separated only by a small town square in which you can say hello to Herb Brooks before entering the RiverCentre complex. The room is fine; the WiFi works. I’m not sure whether to add or deduct points for the distinguished rollerball pens that add calligraphic tones to my chickenscratch (but also break and bleed easily if you decide to take them with you when leaving Minnesota).
Most of all, this hotel may have the best restaurant and bar in the entire Western Conference. The restaurant is an upscale steakhouse with excellent service (and a terrific New York strip) that isn’t too different from The Grill. But the narrow bar and accompanying booths and high-top tables add a nice option if you’d prefer to not venture outside and want to watch hockey or football or baseball or what-have-you. This isn’t a gastropub or a simple bar-fare-and-beer place; at lunch, they’re known for their pepper noodle soup (recommended strongly by Nick Nickson). It’s not really representative of anything, but I’ll always remember dining there on the eve of the 2013-14 season as heavy thunderstorms – not usually the weather we experience here – passed outside and those in the traveling party were buoyed by the eternal wellspring of hope on the precipice of what would be a fine, fine season for the LA Kings.
Yelp review over! The team landed at MSP some 10 minutes before 5:00 p.m. local time. We taxied quite a bit upon departure, but because LAX was in Easterly Operations, we took off over Westchester instead of the ocean, shaving several minutes off the flight. All in all, we were airborne for approximately three hours before touching down in the Twin Cities amidst cool and overcast conditions that surely could’ve been worse, given that, you know, we’re in Minnesota in January.
The Wild, coming off a 7-4 loss in Philadelphia last night, aren’t skating this morning. The Kings, on the other hand, will take the Xcel Energy Center ice at 11:30. After that: pepper noodle soup. There’s a lot more to come on a busy game day, Insiders. Let’s talk soon.