Perception Revision Time: Hockey Is Hot!
Not that many years ago, the NHL had a catastrophic lockout, losses were huge, contraction of the number of teams was looming and there was a small but existent chance that the league wouldn’t make it. The entire 2004-2005 season was canceled, and if you’d asked me then, I’d have said the NHL would survive, but it would fall off the “top shelf” of professional sports leagues in the U.S.
I’d have been wrong.
With 15 teams averaging 100% attendance or more (compared to 8 for the NBA, which isn’t exactly struggling), the NHL is bringing people in. I love the work that Greg Wyshynski did in putting attendance numbers side by side in this post. Much more detail follows.
Although he raises the issue of “tickets distributed” and “attendance,” numbers this big are too big to fake that way. I can tell you that there are professional sports events that you could not fill at any price, so unless “distributed” also includes putting tickets into a big bag on a helicopter and dropping them over the town, I think it’s pretty solid.