The sister city program is a pretty cool one; cities from around the world are paired up to exchange culture and ideas. Most major cities have a sibling somewhere in the world; out of curiosity, we took a look at the sisters of NHL cities and arbitrarily ranked them. For the purposes of these rankings, we're looking at leagues that are considered 'professional.'
We've got nothing: Buffalo
Buffalo is twinned with some hella cool places: Lille, France; Dortmund in Germany; Siena and Torremaggiore in Italy; Saint Ann, Jamaica; Kanazawa, Japan; Rzeszów, Poland; and Tver, Russia. None of these places has a functioning professional hockey team. Good job, Buffalo.
We've only got something on a technicality: Sunrise (or, Miami)
Sunrise used to do the sister city program but due to corruption or something, they stopped. The closest big city is Miami, so we're using that city instead. Miami has about eight zillion sister cities and somehow only one of them has a professional hockey team, and it's...Nice, France. Nice is host to the Nice Aigles. They play in France's second-tier league at the Palais des Sports Jean-Bouin, which has a capacity of about 1,200 people. Their twitter account seems pretty cool. Plus, who wouldn't want to spend a vacation in Nice?
Sixth Coolest Without Technicalities: Toronto
Toronto is twinned with Chicago, Frankfurt Germany, Milan in Italy, and Chongqing in China. Other NHL teams are a huge copout, and Toronto gets minus points because the Blackhawks are dumb. That aside, the only city with a pro team is Milan - HC Milano Rossoblu play in Italy's Serie A, the highest tier of Italian ice hockey. Their roster from last year had a few names on it that college hockey fans might vaguely remember, and the level of hockey is about on par with the UK's EIHL. Pretty okay. Milano Rossoblu play in the 4,000 seat Stadio del Ghiaccio Agorà.
Fifth Coolest: Ottawa
Yes, that's right, Ottawa's sister city ice hockey teams are cooler than Toronto's. Sorry. Ottawa is twinned with Buenos Aires, three hockeyless Italian cities, Beijing, and Seoul. Seoul and the Mokdong Ice Rink are home to the Asia League's newest team, Daemyung Sangmu. Sangmu was established in 2012 with the intention of preparing the home country for the 2018 Winter olympics; it's the military of South Korea's hockey team, and gives pro players a place to play while they're serving their two-years military duty. While Sangmu plays in the Asia League, they're not allowed to make trades or bring in foreign players like the other two Korean teams in the league, but they have to rely on homegrown talent. Despite those restrictions, they finished second in the league in their first season. Not too bad.
Tampa beats out two Canadian cities on account of the fact that their sister city with ice hockey is actually the reigning champion of their league. Tampa's twin is Izmir, Turkey; İzmir Büyükşehir Belediyesi are currently the champions of the Turkish Ice Hockey Super League. Here's a nice page of photos of Izmir's club winning things. They play at the Bornova Ice Sports Hall, which has a capacity of 1,751.
Third Coolest: Detroit
Detroit is twinned with a few different cities but the hockeyest sister city they've got is Minsk - home of the KHL's Dinamo Minsk. Notably, Dinamo is the current home of former NHL star Jonathan Cheechoo! Oh how the mighty have fallen.
Runner Up: Montreal
Montreal is one of two Flortheast cities with multiple hockey-playing sisters. (Bet you can guess the other one.) Montreal's hockey-playing sister cities are Lyon, France and Shanghai, China. The French team in Lyon is ever-so-creatively named the Lions (I truly wonder how they came up with that). They play in France's top-tier League Magnus, in the Patinoire Charlemagne (ooh, you fancy) which has a capacity of 4,200 people. They're actually partnered with the Syracuse Crunch and Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Crunch will actually be playing a pre-season tournament against Lyon next month.
Shanghai's China Dragon's history is pretty fun. The team was established in 1954 as two separate clubs who joined the Asia League in 2004 and then merged to form the China Sharks in 2007 with backing from the San Jose Sharks. San Jose pulled out in 2009, which is when the team was renamed the China Dragon. They actually managed to lose EVERY SINGLE GAME last year. What a feat. Be proud, Montreal.
Flortheast team with the most awesome hockey city sisters: Boston
Boston is twinned with three hockey cities, one of which has two teams, including both league finalists and the newly crowned champion of their league. Before this year, our hockey sisters were Melbourne, Australia and Strasbourg, France; in May, Mayor Marty Walsh signed an agreement with Belfast, Northern Ireland, bringing our total to three.
Strasbourg is home to Etoille Noir Strasbourg (Strasbourg Black Stars) of the Magnus League. Their colors are black and gold, and they play in the Patinoire Iceberg, which has a capacity of 1,250. They finished 10th of 14 teams last year.
Belfast is a city whose team Bruins fans should be familiar with; a team of EIHL "All-Stars" played against the Bruins in Belfast livery during the Bruins' preseason Eurotrip in September 2010. The Giants were founded in 2000; they play in the Odyssey Arena, capacity 7,100. They won the EIHL regular season title in 2013-2014.
Melbourne is currently the crown jewel of the Australian Ice Hockey League. Their two teams, the Melbourne Ice and the Melbourne Mustangs, duked it out in a championship game broadcast free to the world in early September, and the Mustangs took the title with a 6-1 win. Both teams play their home games in the 1000-seat Medibank Icehouse. Also, the Mustangs have a player named Patrick O'Kane, and that's hilarious.
Boston's sister cities are the winning-est of the entire Flortheast, and that's pretty awesome. Next up: the Metropolitan.