So how is the NHL doing?

Now that we’ve had some time to get into the season I’m kind of curious as to how NHL attendance is bouncing back from the strike.

I know The Wild are doing well (attendance wise), but this is an unusual market in that people will clamor to see hockey pretty much no matter what. The team pretty much sucks, the ownership spends no money on talent and they seem to have some aversion putting local players on the roster, but folks still can’t get enough. I’d expect the Canadian teams and Detroit also have no problem finding forgiving fans. But what about Dallas, Carolina, Florida and such teams that have no built-in audience for hockey? Are they drawing well this year? What about teams in non-hockey areas that have been around for a long time like St. Louis and Washington?

Carolina and Nashville have great teams this year, of course, and from what I’ve heard attendance isn’t as good in those areas as Minnesota/Detroit/Canada but it’s getting better. I think the NHL is doing a much better job of marketing itself, and it’s also a lot more available on TV now than it was the last season before the strike. It seems to me like people are more aware of it, but I’m in a non-NHL town and haven’t actually looked up the numbers, so I can’t speak to the actual attendance figures.

Nashville’s attendance hasn’t been bad, I think it’s up over recent years. Winning helps quite a bit, of course.

I can’t quote numbers, but I’m going to guess about the same as it has been. The strike lost some fans, but the faster paced game probably brought some back plus new. Probably not drawing a whole lot on OLN (oh how I hate them), but they weren’t drawing a lot on the ESPNs anyways and weren’t on all that often.

Detroit is still packing them in, but the winning record and rabid fan base helps that one a lot. Nashville and Carolina have to be gaining with the records they’ve got. The Rangers have to be getting bigger crowds than they’ve seen in a while. Pittsburgh and Washington have the rookie phenoms, so you’d hope they’re drawing in some form of fanbase.

The LA Kings have had 12 sellouts in 21 home games. Pretty good I think, especially considering they head 8 home games in the first month (compared to 3 away games). ANd I can tell you that a lot of the non-sellouts were not really that far off the mark. ABout hockey here in L.A., in a city of 10 million there are 20,000 hockey fans…and they go to every game.