November 02, 2005

NHL sets attendance record for October.: More than a few disgruntled NHL fans swore it'd be a cold day in Hell before they attended another pro hockey game. Anybody checked the weather down there lately?

posted by alumshubby to hockey at 04:46 PM - 53 comments

I never swore off the NHL like some others and personally could not wait for it come back. Going to two games this year Philly at Rangers (boo blue shirts) and Philly at Islanders (boo Islanders) they've put out a better product and it shows in the attendence.

posted by HATER 187 at 05:00 PM on November 02

I too have been already. Went with another Spofite (ajaffe). It was a packed, joyous and rowdy house, and we had a ball. I wouldn't have been surprised if attendance was down, but then again, putting butts in seats was never the NHL's biggest problem. It's that whole pesky TV contract issue that's the real issue. Now, I'm sure they're pulling the biggest numbers in the history of OLN in the States, but that's not saying much. If this is the worst the league is going to be in for the foreseeable future, things are looking way up.

posted by chicobangs at 05:05 PM on November 02

went to one game at the meadowlands (devils/panthers) and it wasn't that packed at all (maybe half-full). going tomorrow for the devils/rangers tilt. i expect the crowd to be a little larger. but even before the unpleasantness they never really drew big there.

posted by goddam at 05:15 PM on November 02

I'm like you Hater187. I couldn't wait for the NHL to come back either. The game seems very different. For people who want a wide open end to end game, this new NHL is the ticket. And the Kings are in first. Life is good.

posted by Desert Dog at 05:30 PM on November 02

I still haven't popped my NHL cherry despite working across the street from a venue. A coworker who's a fan tells me that TV is no way to experience a hockey game; a onetime sportswriter, he's of the opinion that hockey comes across worse on the tube than just about any other sport. I still haven't decided if it's worth blowing at least $30 (that's what one scalper quoted me, shortly after a game had started) to find out whether the bug will bite.

posted by alumshubby at 06:01 PM on November 02

I've been to two pre-season penaltyfests and two regular season games. First was when Ottawa came to town and then when Philly came to town. Both games were absolutely amazing. It felt pretty good to be back at the rink and not thinking about anything else in life.

posted by NoMich at 07:02 PM on November 02

I was watching the Bruins at Carolina and the announcers were talking about the NHL averaging 98% attendance. During a game where the arena was 98% empty. They must be doing some amazing business elsewhere. Season ticket holders and corporate accounts count as attendees regardless of whether there's an ass in the seat.

posted by yerfatma at 08:09 PM on November 02

Yep - I bitched out of my ire and self-righteous rage so fast you could call me Dr. Hypocrite. I could not fucking wait for the season. Again, I've proven sheep-worthy - I found that I didn't miss hockey when it wasn't around, and, of course, now can't think of what I'd do without it. alumshubby, I'm not sure I can promise you an epiphany, but for $30 you can have a least a shot. You may prove worthy, I don't know. Where I come from, hockey is straight in the blood.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:19 PM on November 02

I was watching the Bruins at Carolina and the announcers were talking about the NHL averaging 98% attendance. During a game where the arena was 98% empty. What are you talking about? There were over 13,000 people at that game.

posted by NoMich at 08:42 PM on November 02

It's not so much that hockey comes across poorly on TV as it just makes a lot more sense once you've seen a game or two in person. You have a better idea what's happening outside the field of the screen, of the pace and the atmosphere of the place, and it fills things in when you're watching games afterward. I never thought I'd be able to stay away from hockey. (Baseball, on the other hand, I've sworn off since '94, and I don't miss it one bit.) I'm going to at least one more Rangers game and an Islander game, and I'll happily see any game I can get to, with any of youse.

posted by chicobangs at 09:07 PM on November 02

maybe a SpoFi hockey night is in order?

posted by goddam at 09:26 PM on November 02

Boy that Ottawa team sure sucks, eh? Holy shit.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:53 PM on November 02

Ottawa is so good that it's scary. They are a lot of fun to watch. And hey, I got Daniel Alfredson on my SpoFi fantasy league. He was the only guy on my roster playing tonight. Shuck on that Trebek!

posted by NoMich at 09:58 PM on November 02

They are a lot of fun to watch, though.

posted by NoMich at 09:59 PM on November 02

I like how Marty Havlat just tossed that backhand into the net behind him as he was skating by, almost like, "Oh yeah, I nearly forgot to score a goal there."

posted by DrJohnEvans at 10:36 PM on November 02

What are you talking about? There were over 13,000 people at that game. Yuh. Fantastic concession stands in Carolina. That or not enough bathrooms, I guess.

posted by yerfatma at 06:20 AM on November 03

Well, say what you want, there were over 13K at that game. I guess there's nothing I can say to you southern hockey haters anyway.

posted by NoMich at 07:14 AM on November 03

I was amazed at how fast the game moved when chico and I attended (Rangers 3 Islanders 1 last Thursday at MSG). I'd been accustomed to seeing games that started at 7:05 end after 10, but this one was done by 9:30. I was very happy to see that, and there was no loss of action (except for the first eight minutes, which we missed cos' I was stuck in a cab...)

posted by ajaffe at 07:57 AM on November 03

Since I live in the Toronto area (sorta), I don't expect I'll be seeing a game live any time soon. I'd pretty much have to win the tickets to be able to afford going to a game. The last game I went to (with my father) was Leafs vs Flyers on January 19, 2002. The listed ticket price was $170...each. That said, CBC just announced that this Saturday is the first game they will be broadcasting in full HD glory, so I really don't see why I need to go anymore. :)

posted by grum@work at 08:45 AM on November 03

alumshubby, let me tell you a story. My mom, born in Manitoba, generally thinks of professional sports, all of them, as a racket, a soap opera for males. Needless to say, she doesn't watch any sports, though she enjoys figure skating. However while visiting friends in Toronto, my father and her decided to check out the Maple Leafs. They sat in the rafters. Afterwards, my mom couldn't stop talking about how exciting the game was, how the crowd was really into it, etc. If my mom can be converted to a hockey fan late in life just by going to one game in shitty seats, you don't stand a chance of resisting hockey's charms. I guess I'm one of the people who was so angry with the League for shutting down that I wanted to exact revenge. But I knew I couldn't. Why would I after combing through countless CBA articles for a year and half, searching for a light at the end of bullshit tunnel? I obviously have a weakness for the game. Resistance was futile. I am slave to hockey. There I said it. But I still hate Gary Bettman. I had Center Ice hooked up by the afternoon of 10/05/05. I'll be going to a few games this year. I might even get my long lost Canadian buddies down to MSG for a Leafs game. I also have traffic pylons rented to cordon off my couch and a keg of Molson to be FedEx'd for Hockey Day in Canada.

posted by garfield at 08:50 AM on November 03

I guess there's nothing I can say to you southern hockey haters anyway. Wait, you were being serious? "Southern hockey haters" must include the Bruins announcers who openly lamented the fact Carolina has a decent team that no one showed up to watch.

posted by yerfatma at 08:56 AM on November 03

"Southern hockey haters" must include the Bruins announcers who openly lamented the fact Carolina has a decent team that no one showed up to watch. Well, they were freakin' wrong. I don't know how many more times I have to say this, but there were over 13,000 people at that damn game. Look it up. You know how many people were at the Buffalo game that night? Less than 9000 people. You know how many people were at the New Jersey game that same night? About 11000 people. Look, I know that some games in Raleigh this year will draw naught but flies, but this time, you are just flat-out wrong. Again, look it up.

posted by NoMich at 09:12 AM on November 03


posted by HATER 187 at 09:13 AM on November 03

NoMich - are you quoting stats or were you there? I've been to plenty of games where the announcer proudly declares 'the 192nd straight sell-out for your HomeTown Team' and you look around midway through the 2nd period and see half-the stadium is empty.

posted by kokaku at 10:00 AM on November 03

Right, those sales figures count season tickets and any sort of luxury box in the attendance figures. If there were 13,000 people actually at that game, they showed up awful late.

posted by yerfatma at 10:10 AM on November 03

I wasn't there, but I know quite a few people who were there and when they heard what Jack Edwards said, well, they were pissed. And to address your (and later yerfatma's) very good point, we have very few no-shows as the fanbase here in Raleigh is not corportate. Rather, it is Joe and Jane Sixpack off the street. When they drop a couple of hundred bucks on tickets for the whole family, they go. When you see the box score for our home games, you can believe the attendance figures. Warts and all. Another thing to realize here is that most tickets sold are those that face the same way as the cameras do. For some reason (me included), we prefer the seats that face the benches rather than the penalty box. Look, I'm not claiming that we're setting the world on fire when it comes to attendance figures, it's just that I hate, hate, hate it when people spread BS figures around. Our attendance is up over 20% so far this season which is a lot better than I had thought since this team is coming off two really lousy years and a lock-out that erased an entire season. I really thought that all of that meant that nobody was going to go to games this year, but that is obviously wrong. In fact, the Canes are outdrawing Chicago, New Jersey, the Islanders and a few other "traditional" hockey markets so far. We're number 22 in attendance right now. Again, not setting the world on fire, but certainly no reason to use them as an example of evidence contrary to league-wide record attendance numbers.

posted by NoMich at 10:19 AM on November 03

Yeah, I've been to a game this year too. Stars blew a 4-3 lead with less than a minute left (thank you to Brendan Morrow for his penalty and the resulting 6 on 4 play by the Sharks) and then lost it in overtime. I gotta admit, I was kind of hoping for a shootout. Probably go to 3-4 more this season, depending on when some tickets land in my lap.

posted by Ufez Jones at 10:19 AM on November 03

"corportate"? Duh. And to clarify the team's corporate support: the luxury boxes are always sold out for the entire season (and have been since day one of the RBC Center's opening), but that's about it.

posted by NoMich at 10:21 AM on November 03

Garfield, nice story about your mom. You'll remember that for the rest of your life whenever you watch a game. The power of the puck!

posted by Desert Dog at 10:51 AM on November 03

In preparation for the Leafs' games against Carolina, TB, and Washington this week, The Star had a hockey blog round-up with quotes and everything. I didn't know Carolina Hurricanes fan-blogs existed, but hell, here they are. Donít let the cameras fool you, kids—many people sit on the same side of the arena as the cameras, and they sit upstairs (where the cameras generally donít pan). Attendance is creeping up, in dribs and drabs—and they like what theyíre seeing.Sweet Tea, Barbeque, and Bodychecks Fortunately for the packed house home team crowd, the Canes had a mega-explosion of their own, for eight goals and the win. It marked the most goals the team has scored since the franchise moved to North Carolina in 1997.Red and Black Hockey Mario dropped a couple of F-bombs on our boy, but it looked like Staal just glared back...Whatever grampa.CasonBlog

posted by DrJohnEvans at 10:58 AM on November 03

I live on Long Island and I must say this is a great place for Hockey. Even when the Islanders sucked they still had a decent turn out. The Rangers always have a great crowd. The one team that does not thrive in this area are the Dev's. They couldn't even sell out Stanley Cup finals games. People in North Jersey like the Rangers. People in south Jersey like the Flyers. I really think it is a shame a team that puts out a good product can't love in there home town. PS if you get a chance to see a game at the Spectrum/First Union/Wachovia center go it is a crazy expierence. No fans like Philly fans.

posted by HATER 187 at 11:02 AM on November 03

I know quite a few people who were there and when they heard what Jack Edwards said, well, they were pissed. That's fine and I have nothing against Southern hockey, but when he said that, it looked (admittedly a rough estimate based on TV shots) like 90% of seats were empty. Announcers are all company guys; for one to say something about attendance is out of the ordinary. Just curious: how did folks in Raleigh hear what a NESN announcer had to say? I realize NESN is available on satellite, but what are the odds multiple folks you know who attended the game also found out what the road announcer said on a broadcast they couldn't have seen personally?

posted by yerfatma at 11:06 AM on November 03

hater, you have a point with the rangers/flyers fans populating new jersey. but while my preference will always be a rangers game at the garden, i'm usually up for seeing anyone play. and i know others that feel the same way. i think part of the problem with the devils is the location and condition of the arena. it's one thing to drive to the meadowlands for a football game on a sunday. but for people that don't live in the area, it's not the most convenient place to get to for a tuesday night game during rush hour. especially with no mass transit. hopefully the newark arena will help. it'll be a nicer facility and easier to get to. maybe they will get more hockey fans as well as devils fans.

posted by goddam at 12:06 PM on November 03

Just curious: how did folks in Raleigh hear what a NESN announcer had to say? Out-of-market Canes fans watching the NESN feed on Center Ice informed us on our FanHome message board. There's also a Bruins message board on FanHome and the Bruins fans were saying the same stuff about attendance for the game. So, we all found out later on that night or the next morning. I didn't mean to make it sound like they heard this tidbit when they were actually in the arena, watching the game. Sorry if I gave that impression.

posted by NoMich at 12:29 PM on November 03

Did anyone see the fight last night in the Blackhawks-Blues game between Vandermeer and Downey? Helluva brawl.

posted by willthrill72 at 12:30 PM on November 03

I agree goddam my first hockey game was at Contiental Airlines Arena, I have gone to several Rock shows there and I always ask myself what am I doing in this fucking dump. Its in a totally inconvient spot (under 10 miles for midtown NYC but it takes like 40 minutes to get there from NYC) the building isn't so hot (still beats the colliseum) I think Newark is a great idea.

posted by HATER 187 at 12:41 PM on November 03

At center ice? For like 2.5 minutes? Yeah, best fight of the year, so far

posted by garfield at 01:09 PM on November 03

Well, the Meadowlands rocks if you live in Jersey City Heights. 15 minutes to get there, and no traffic when you leave, heading East on Rt.3. But Jersey City Heights isn't who should be catered to when building a hockey arena.

posted by garfield at 01:12 PM on November 03

Hey all, I've been reading SpoFi for months but this is my first post... I'm a mighty ducks season ticket holder this year for the first time because the team offered a buy 2 get 2 deal on season tickets in the upper level ends. The deal includes a price freeze that allows us to get the same deal next season as well. Without this deal my husband and I would never have been able to afford season seats for a family of four. After reading this article I was curious if anyone knows of other clubs giving similar offers.

posted by captaincavegirl at 01:17 PM on November 03

I know of several that did not offer any kind of discount but kudos to the Ducks managment they really seem comitted to keeping a good fan base and putting a good product on the ice. Could the hockey capital be shifting from the great white north to cali?

posted by HATER 187 at 01:27 PM on November 03

I guarantee you each member of the Toronto Maple Leafs' board of directors would suffer a catastrophic stroke if someone in the boardroom even thought too hard about making such an offer.

posted by fabulon7 at 01:34 PM on November 03

Welcome, captaincavegirl. (Please post more often; we don't have nearly enough west coast hockey people in here!) I believe the Islanders have some sort of discount plan (I have the Center Ice TV package as well, and I've seen ticket-discount ads for Phoenix and Nashville as well, and there have to be more), but what fabulon7 said about the Leafs would hold true for the Rangers as well. When the season ticket waiting list gets below ten years or so, then they'll maybe think about it. I'd guess that'll hold true for all the original six teams (any info on Chicago?), and you might want to throw Philly on that list too. Seriously, if this is as bad as the NHL will have it, then everything's gonna be alright.

posted by chicobangs at 01:57 PM on November 03

'zactly, garf. i'm a stone's throw away in clifton, which is great for me. but there's no way for my friend in the city to make it here on time tonight. my dad, who lives in ocean grove, is going instead, but he has to leave at around 4pm to get here. from what i understand the devils had some tickets offers (free jersey/free tickets to individual games) but nothing as good as what the captain described.

posted by goddam at 02:33 PM on November 03

After reading this article I was curious if anyone knows of other clubs giving similar offers. Don't know about the season ticket offers, but here in Dallas, the cheap seats are $10 all season. This is why I'll be able to afford to go to 4 or 5 games (most of my ticket money goes to my Mavs 10-game plan). And indeed, welcome. Just don't get cocky if the Ducks take the lead in the Pacific. Kidding...sorta

posted by Ufez Jones at 08:32 PM on November 03

attendance was pretty pathetic tonight. they said it was 14,596, but it sure didn't seem like that many.

posted by goddam at 11:24 PM on November 03

Great photos, goddam. It's made me realize I'd almost be willing to pay $100 for a ticket to a Leaf game...or go out and buy NHL 2006 for my PC.

posted by grum@work at 09:25 AM on November 04

re: photos - Isn't that the Rangers' first fight of the year?

posted by garfield at 09:33 AM on November 04

yup. think it was the Devils' first as well.

posted by goddam at 10:18 AM on November 04

thanks for the nice welcome. Fabulon7's comment made me wonder... I guarantee you each member of the Toronto Maple Leafs' board of directors would suffer a catastrophic stroke if someone in the boardroom even thought too hard about making such an offer. What do the cheap seats in Toronto go for? I can't even imagine living in an area where there was that kind of demand for hockey tickets, or any demand at all really. What I wouldn't give to see a hockey game in Canada!

posted by captaincavegirl at 11:56 AM on November 04

Actually, Canadians are a kind and generous folk. No limbs or first borns need be handed over to see a hockey game in the GWN.

posted by garfield at 12:28 PM on November 04

Last time I went to a Leafs game (2001 or so) I think the cheapest tickets were about $33 (plus tax and service charges and all that jazz). The ticketmaster website suggests that the current cheapest ticket is $42.

posted by gspm at 01:16 PM on November 04

Could the hockey capital be shifting from the great white north to cali? Considering that Leaf games sell out even when the team on the ice is garbage, for $100 a pop or more, I think not. And the thing about the Leaf "cheap seats" is that even at just less than $50, they are impossible to get. Seriously. Unless you know someone or some company with season's tickets, attending a game is hard. If you want to go to a sudden game, the only real option is a scalper. Try paying $150 for "average" seats.

posted by mkn at 08:21 PM on November 04

You might be able to get a single seat at a Leaf game for $42. But you have to wait until the very last minute and hope that the ACC releases a batch of tickets that they previously withheld (for players families, etc). If it's a team that has ANY sort of history with the Maple Leafs (an original 6 team, Philadelphia, Ottawa, NJ), one of the other western Canadian teams (Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver), or a team with a marquee star (Pittsburgh, Nashville, Phoenix (for the coach), Columbus (before Nash's injury woes)), then you can forget about getting a regular priced ticket. They stopped being available 30 seconds after they went on sale back in July/August. The last time I got scalpers tickets was when they were still at MLG and I had to miss the first 5 minutes of the game...and still paid $10 over the price of each ticket. And the scalper was furious he had to sell them that low. Any lower and he said it would be "bad for business, and I'd rather go to the game myself".

posted by grum@work at 11:49 PM on November 04

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