In spite of steep drop-offs in Carolina and Florida, the NHL Reported Attendance through December is up slightly. Columbus and Dallas are leading the growth with double digit growth in the same period last year.
The Blue Jackets growth over last year is probably most attributable to their exciting playoff series last year where they won their first ever playoff game against the Pittsburgh. If you remember, they started the season very poorly and it wasn’t until the last 15 games that they’ve been playing great hockey. I expect this growth to cool off a bit due to their strong attendance the second half of last season.
As reported before the season, the new ownership group of the Panthers are turning the business around by reducing the amount of promotions and giveaways. December attendance was aided by favorable match-ups with Pittsburgh, Montreal and the Rangers but they are improving the product on the ice as well. If the winning sustains, expect them to get to 2013-14 levels and they will be doing it without the heavy promotions.