The ice at the cow palace up here for the bulls is surprisingly hard for the same reasons.Well of course you can't tell just from seeing the ice on TV, you couldn't tell even if you were in the arena itself unless it was really obvious. Like you said though, you can visually see when the puck doesn't settle well or if there's a lot of ice being chipped up as a result of it being too soft and from that tell if the ice is good or not. The difference in arenas, though can be huge. Look at Staples, where the ice will be covered, on average, for likely 4 days a week for the Clippers or Lakers: that prevents the ice from settling and maintaining a constant temperature. An arena like the puddle, even though it will host outside events fairly regularly, will stilll have the ice sitting exposed for the vast majority of the time. That alone will allow it to set and harden better than Staples. I've been lucky enough to skate on all 3 sheets in the Southland over the years, and by far the best was out in Ontario, for the simple reason that they hardly use that place for anything other than the Reign during the hockey season.