Sunday, April 01, 2007
It seems such a straight-forward concept – counting the bodies that pass through the turnstiles. In the NHL, though, the concept is not so straight-forward, not so simple.
An article and accompanying analysis (through games of January 31) by the Globe and Mail* shines a light on the lie that is the puff offered by the NHL on its wonderful attendance figures. While the article by David Shoalts concerns itself with the Atlanta Thrashers and their dubious honor as the league's most charitable franchise (leading the NHL in ticket giveaways), the trouble is hardly confined to one team.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, for example, who are “officially” third in the NHL in average attendance and play to an “official” capacity of 100.4 percent per home game, achieve this lofty level by virtue of giving away tickets that amount to eight percent of capacity per game. And this is up 38 percent over last year.
The New Jersey Devils, who aren’t winning any awards for their “official” attendance, are giving away nine percent of capacity a game – up 22 percent over last year.
The Colorado Avalanche – not long ago the darling of the consecutive sellout crowd – is third in the league in giveaways, up a whopping 71 percent from last year and 14 percent of capacity.
It’s worth noting that as part of the same Globe and Mail analysis, only three clubs show lower average ticket prices this year – Phoenix, Florida, and the Islanders. All of these teams are in the top half of the giveaway rankings.
Overall, giveaways are down four percent from last year. But still, they represent six percent of total capacity. Is that the profile of a healthy league?
* Thanks to Stanthefan on The Official for pointing the way to the article.
The sprint begins, and there are teams (well, team) who appear to have clinched one of the last three spots, and there are teams teetering on the brink of falling out of contention.
Let’s look at the teams . . .
Games remaining: CAR,
Record against remaining opponents: 12-8-1
The Lightning probably punched their ticket to the top-eight with their 5-2 win over the Capitals last night. They can probably eliminate
Games remaining: TOR, at NYI, MON, at PIT
Record against remaining opponents: 9-9-2
Games Remaining: BOS, at NY Rangers, at
Record against remaining opponents: 9-7-1
Games remaining: at NY Rangers, PHL, at NYI, MON
Record against remaining opponents: 9-1-5
It’s rather remarkable that the Maple Leafs have only one regulation loss to the four clubs still on the schedule, especially since three of them are fellow travelers in this sprint to the finish. Also, the Leafs are 4-1-1 in their last six games, including wins over playoff clubs
Games remaining: at
Record against remaining opponents: 12-6-2
Well, the puck certainly is on
Games remaining: NY Rangers, TOR, at PHL, at NJD
Record against remaining opponents: 12-9-3
The good news – the Islanders aren’t eliminated yet. The bad news – they are 1-5-1 against the Devils and haven’t beaten them since their first meeting of the year. And, the Islanders might be 4-1-2 against the Rangers, but they are 0-1-2 in their last three meetings, all 2-1 losses. Worst of all, goalie Rick DiPietro could be out for the rest of the regular season with a concussion. Trailing