With October coming to an end, I thought it would be a good time to check in with NHL attendance. One month does not make a season as a lot of teams (and fans) are still figuring out how competitive a product they are putting on the ice. That said, there can be some early signs of how the season might go for these clubs.
NHL League Average for October
As the table shows, average attendance is down 1.4% compared to October of last year. It is early to draw any conclusions as most of this can be chalked up to more of the lower attendance teams had more games this October than they did last October, bringing the weighted average down a bit. As you will see in the next chart, six teams have over 5% declines year over year with Carolina and New Jersey having over 10% declines.
The bigger story of October is the growth in Florida and the steady inclines in Arizona. They absolutely had the most opportunity to improve but the growth and improvement will not happen over night. The fact that neither team made the playoffs last year makes the gains a little surprising. Florida did have an exciting March/April last year which tends to be a leading indicator of attendance. In Arizona, fans might be wanting to tune into see how the young guns in the desert can perform this year.
TSN posted an article yesterday on the fact that Canadians do not make up the majority of NHL players. I’ve been following this trend for a while and thought it might be a fun time to put an interactive visual together to drill into some of the specifics. Enjoy!
General Managers meeting this week in Boca Raton to discuss possible rule changes which includes a 3on3 period. As you might know, the AHL has instituted a 3on3 period in OT which has dramatically reduced the # of Shootout games.
As the playoff races hit the home stretch, I looked into the frequency of 3 point games by month to evaluate if teams are playing conservatively in a tie game to preserve the one point on getting into OT.
There is a lot of room for some other analysis but thought I would share some of the preliminary data and some other findings.
And since I have it, here is the % of 3 point games by Season.
NHL attendance continues to be strong in spite of big drops in Carolina and Florida. 2014-15 is on track to be the highest gate attendance ever (2012-13 was a lockout shortened season). Outdoor games were excluded from figures below.
No major shifts in the growth and decline numbers. Keep in mind that roughly have of all NHL teams sellout every regular season game therefore variability is only possible for half the teams. Dallas, Columbus, and Colorado are up this year due to making the playoffs last year even though they are all unlikely to make the playoffs this year.
The Coyotes attendance is down this a bit last year but without making the playoffs in 2013-14 and a poor performing year on the ice this year, this should be expected.
The silver lining for Arizona is that the distribution and variability from game to game this season has not been as large.
Carolina and Florida
Carolina and Florida attendance is soft as both teams had some ticketing strategy changes last summer. (Less giveaways and discounts that were undercutting the value of paying customers) This was the right decision which makes it tough to compare year over year. (Side note: expect Florida’s attendance to do well with a battle to get in the playoffs and favorable attendance matchups with the Leafs playing tonight and 2 games a piece remaining with the Canadiens and Bruins.
No really changes from last month as the NHL continues strong attendance numbers in spite of steep drop-offs in Florida and Carolina. This is the first month we have seen 2012-2013 numbers. As you might recall, the season did not start until mid-January. The spike was related to pent up demand and opening night sellouts inflating the January average. The NHL’s attendance numbers are extraordinary when you realize that roughly have the league sells out every game.
By team, no real change over last month. Dallas overtook Columbus as the top gainer over last year.
Carolina’s drop was expected based on cutting promotions before the Season started.
It is also hard to blame fans in Carolina right now as the Hurricanes have the longest playoff drought of US teams. I know everyone thinks that teams should support their teams in winning and losing seasons but outside Canada, that doesn’t happen too often.