Several years ago I shot a couple games of the Calgary Flames with a 500 F4P. To much lens IMO. And I was up in the upper deck to gain more distance.
When I used to shot the Mac's major midged tournament we used 85 1.4 (ice level by the goal)- 180 2.8 and 300 2.8 (penalty boxes) . but we where shooting hockey cards so that needs to be factored in(single players vertical and tight). If your upper at the blue line the 300 2.8-400 2.8 is far better choice. I got a 400 2.8 ED_IF AIS and it's the cats meow on a D3. So is the 200 F2 ED-IF AIS. Just amazing. Inside dark arena's which are most of them having the F2 is really helpfull in getting a 750 sec shutter speed ISO 1600-6400.
Have you considered going the Nikkor AIS route. I did got 4 big Nikkor telephoto's for the price of one new one. For me at that time is was a good choice. Now that i have a D3, I noticed many of the Big Gun NIkkor AIS are now swallowed up. Keh is a good example. They have none right now. Which is what I thought would happen when the D700 was anounced.
By the way my version of the 400 2.8 AIS behaves nicely with both the TC 14B and the TC 301. Just keep the shutter speeds up and get it in focus. Which is amazing easy with IF and the D3.
All D2X + 400 f2.8
100% crop - I'm the blob at the back of the cornea taking the photograph
400mm + tc17 - Snowy Egret
400mm + tc20 - Vermillion Flycatcher
I've found the 400 f/2.8 AF-S II with TC-17E and TC-14E to be very sharp combos with the D3. Especially with the AF-fine tune feature. Much more acceptable than with the D2X. I'd post some examples but SmugMug is sick just now.
Kurt: There is a cherry Nikkor 800 F8 ED-IF AIS on E-bay right now.
Kind Regards Greg
Some more lovely examples. Does it do well with a 2x teleconverter? I never owned the Nikon version of a 2x simply due to the horrible (at least the one I owned) performance of a Kenko 2x