Photo: The Denver Post
NHLToSeattle.com released the league’s attendance report for the 2018-19 season on Tuesday morning. Attendance around the league decreased by just .2% but that is better compared to other professional leagues around North America. The NFL saw a decrease in attendance by .5% from the previous season while the MLB and MLS attendance both went down by 4%. The attendance from NBA fans was also relatively similar compared to the 2017-18 season.
The up-and-coming Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, and Arizona Coyotes saw the largest increases in attendance from the NHL while the Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues, and Ottawa Senators saw the biggest declines. Keep in mind that the Blues started out the season 15-18-4 and sat last in the NHL standings on January 3.
It should be no surprise that the Senators were among the worst in attendance as they finished last in the league and traded away captain Erik Karlsson and two of the team’s best forwards in Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman for little return in a span of eight months. The fact that owner Eugene Melnyk also threatened to move the team at the 2017 NHL 100 Classic also may not have helped, either.
Teams that are on the rise such as the Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators, and New York Islanders also saw big increases in fan attendance while rebuilding teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, and Los Angeles Kings saw sizable decreases.
Even though teams like the Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Boston Bruins were among the top-four teams in the NHL standings, they all stayed neutral in terms of fan attendance compared to the previous year.
The Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils all saw decreases by up to 3% in fan attendance last season compared to the previous.
The biggest surprise from the chart above is that the Anaheim Ducks’ attendance actually increased by 1% even though they missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in seven seasons and finished with the third-to-worst record in the Western Conference last season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, who signed arguably the biggest free agent in NHL history in center John Tavares on July 1, 2018, and the Winnipeg Jets, who went to the Western Conference Final the previous season, did not see any increase in fan attendance compared to the previous season.
Despite trading for one of the league’s top superstar players in Karlsson, the San Jose Sharks’ attendance went down by 1% compared to 2017-18.
The Flames saw a decrease of 3% in fan attendance despite winning the Western Conference during the regular season. The Los Angeles Kings were the second-to-worst team in the NHL last season but only saw a decrease of 1% compared to the previous season, when they were the first wild-card in the Western Conference.
55% of games across the league last season were sellouts, down 9% from the 2017-18.
The Islanders (13), Avalanche (nine), and Columbus Blue Jackets (six) had the biggest increase in sellouts around the league last season compared to the previous one while the Rangers (-24), Blues (-21), and Flyers (-20) had the lowest.
By Harrison Brown