Tuesday, October 17, 2006
You can always count on the US media to help out the NHL by focusing only on the negative. For most of the day the only hockey story to be found on their front page without scrolling all the way to the bottom was titled "Bettman: Too early to panic about empty NHL seats". Although this story was nowhere to be found on all major hockey sites I still think it's worth looking at.
* Colorado did not sell out a home game for the first time in almost 11 years
* Los Angeles had their lowest attendance for a game in five years
* Chicago had just 8,008 fans at a game this week
* There are 14 teams who have sold out every game but 10 of the remaining teams are playing in arenas that are more than 10% empty (plus Boston who has yet to play a home game but will likely be under 90% as well).
It is far too soon to know whether this will continue the rest of the way, but the numbers don't lie:
Phoenix - 89.1%
Los Angeles - 87.7%
Anaheim - 85.5%
Florida - 84.5%
New Jersey - 78.3%
Atlanta - 77.1%
Washington - 76.6%
St. Louis - 75.8%
NY Islanders - 74.1%
Chicago - 61.3%
And for those who have said that the MTS Centre in Winnipeg is too small for an NHL team (capacity 15,015), there are 7 teams in the league who are averaging below that mark.
Instead of simply pointing out potential problems I would like to get some input from people in these markets on what could be done to get more people out to the games. It's a shame that Ovechkin isn't playing in front of packed houses at home and also that some of the markets with the most history are not drawing in the fans like they should be.
Posted by Daniel Tolensky at 8:26 p.m.