* Based on tickets sold between 8/1/2011 and 10/4/2011
For the past ten years or more, the Bruins were a sports afterthought in Boston and New England. They were rarely talked about on sports radio and lacked very many casual fans. That all changed last season when the B's won the Stanley Cup and became the hottest team in town and that seems to be reflected in ticket sales for the upcoming season.
Since August 1, the Bruins have sold nearly 23 percent more tickets on the TicketNetwork Exchange than any other team in the National Hockey League. Even more eye-opening, the Bruins have sold 389 percent more tickets than the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team that has sold the smallest number of tickets (What?!? Columbus, Ohio, is not a hockey hot-bed? I refuse to believe it).
The Bruins will begin their defense of their title on October 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers. The average ticket price for the game is currently $283, the third highest average ticket price of any game this season.
Canadians really do love their hockey
While the aforementioned Bruins vs. Flyers game has the third highest average price of any game this season, it is one of only two in the top 15 games with the highest average ticket price that takes place on U.S. soil. The rest all take place in arenas north of the border, including the top game of the season, the home opener for the Winnipeg Jets against the Montreal Canadiens. The game, which has an average price of $614, will be the regular season debut for the Jets since relocating to Winnipeg from Atlanta.
Despite missing the playoffs for six consecutive seasons, Toronto Maple Leafs home games currently account for six of the 15 highest priced games. It is their home opener, also against the Canadiens, that ranks the highest among their games with an average price of $258.
The only other game in the top 15 that will be played in the U.S. will be the NHL's marquee regular season event, the Winter Classic between the Flyers and New York Rangers at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The game has the second highest average price at $588.
Are NHL sales being helped by the NBA lockout?
While there really isn't a way to know for sure whether sports fans are buying more NHL tickets this year because of the NBA lockout, it certainly doesn't hurt, especially when looking at the dramatic improvement in NHL sales over last year.
* Data from 8/1/2011 to 10/4/2011 compared to same period in 2010.
If you compare sales from August 1 through this morning to the same date range in 2010, 26 of the 30 NHL franchises have seen an increase in sales on the secondary market. The San Jose Sharks and Carolina Hurricanes have had the largest improvement, with sales up by more than 100 percent. Of the NHL teams that share an arena with an NBA counterpart, the Colorado Avalanche, who share the Pepsi Center with the Denver Nuggets, have had the highest growth, up more than 91 percent.
The only four teams not to post gains in 2011 were the New York Rangers (who are still among the league leaders in tickets sold), Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The 2011 NHL season kicks off with a handful of games on the schedule for October 6. If you are looking for tickets this season, go to http://www.ticketnetwork.com/nhl.
Ticket prices are based on the average price of tickets sold on the TicketNetwork Exchange between 8/1/2011 and 10/4/2011 2 p.m. EST. Comparisons are based on prices from the same date range in 2010.