The NHL lockout stole three months of hockey, including 34 games per team, the Winter Classic, and the 2013 NHL All-Star Game; understandably, it upset many, many hockey fans. When the lockout officially ended, teams went into full fan repair mode, in an attempt to win back all those fans who were sick of players and owners squabbling over money, something both parties had a lot more of than the average fan. Now that the season has been back for a little over a month now, have the fans come back?
The answer is.... yes!
Oh, and the answer kinda is no, too.
Let me explain — unlike the other major sports leagues, the NHL and its franchises are really divided into two classes: the haves and the have-nots. Hockey-crazed fan bases, which include mostly cities in Canada and the Northeast U.S., have returned in full force, filling arenas on a nightly basis. According to ESPN.com's attendance figures, all seven teams located north of the border have 100% attendance or better so far this season. Same goes for major hockey markets including Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit. Some of those have even improved from last season.
NHL Highest Average Prices*
NHL Lowest Average Prices*
Smaller markets represent the lowest attendance percentages so far in 2013, with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Phoenix Coyotes representing the lowest attendance percentages so far this season.
On TicketNetwork.com, the average price per ticket sold for NHL games has reflected similar market differences. The highest averages belong to those major hockey markets, getting as high as $177 for the Toronto Maple Leafs.* The lowest averages belong to teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes, and Phoenix Coyotes.
Overall, the average price in 2013 has gone up slightly from last year, hitting $77 this year compared to $73.
The shortened NHL season is only a quarter of the way over, so a lot of this data can change as time goes on. For the most part, though, sports fans continue to prove to be very forgiving, and all NHL players and owners should be very thankful of that.
* Prices are for tickets sold through TicketNetwork.com marketplace as of 2/19/13. Minimum of 15 orders.
UPDATED 2/25/13: article was updated to correct errors in previously reported attendance figures.