Saturday, November 16, 2013

Good Seats still available, a few struggles for a few outposts

One month into a new NHL season and there would seem to still be some old stories to tell when it comes to the turning of an NHL turnstile.

Filling the seats remains a problem in three NHL locations, with Phoenix, Florida and Long Island all struggling to resonate with their fan base.

While it's probably understandable that the Islanders will suffer an attendance meltdown this year on the Island, they after all have announced they're Brooklyn bound. The numbers still are rather shocking, with five of their home games this year below the 13,000 mark, three of them just barely above the 10,000 mark.

The other two trouble spots probably won't come as a surprise, being a rather familiar story when it comes to the work load for those lonely souls taking tickets.

The Phoenix Coyotes may have new ownership and proclamations of a long term relationship ahead, but when it comes to new fans, well few are making their way out to Glendale. The Coyotes have accumulated five games where the attendance has been below 13,000, the majority of those hovering at the 10-11,000 mark with an October 31st match up with Nashville a truly scary thing for accountants, as only 7,401 bothered to make the commute. All of it leaves us to wonder when exactly Gary Bettman and the other 29 owners finally get the message that Arizona is just not that into you.

The Panthers who have already fired the coaching staff in a bid to turn around the season, must be hoping for a curiosity bump from what are apparently the few hockey fans of South Florida. Attendance at five of their games this season have not broken the 13,000 mark, the core group of Panther fans apparently in the 12,000 range.

While not quite as noticeable as the top three of the lonely, the Columbus Blue Jackets may be poised to join their ranks, so far in 2013-14 the Blue Jackets have had three crowds of less than 13,000, what's particularly interesting about that is the fact that two of those three game featured iconic franchises in Montreal and the New York Rangers.

The Devils and Hurricanes round out our review of the worrisome numbers, both had one game each where they attracted less than 13,000 our arbitrary mark for red flags...

It's a little puzzling to understand the NHL's dedication to markets that don't seem to have much interest in hockey, while the Islanders situation will no doubt improve upon their arrival at the Barclay's Centre, it would seem that Florida, Phoenix and maybe even Columbus may be long term trouble spots.

For those would be owners that have been longing for an NHL franchise for a number of years now (Bonjour Quebec, how ya doin' Hamilton, Second team for Toronto anyone?) reading the nightly attendance stats must provide for a most frustrating situation, knowing as they do that any team that might land in their city would improve those numbers by at least five thousand a night.

You can track the attendance charts nightly from our  Owner's Box listings on the right hand column, where you will find our Attendance Watch Feature.

A helpful guide to cities everywhere who may want to pick up the phone and say, hey do we have a location for you!

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