Montreal Fans Unimpressive at World Juniors

The 2015 World Junior hockey tournament is officially off and running, using an unusual schedule that will expand into 2017.

The games are spread between Montreal and Toronto through the quarter-finals, with both cities seeing Team Canada games. At that point the semi-finals and medal games then move to Toronto exclusively. In 2017 the schedule reverses, and Montreal gets the semi-final and medal games.

A few years ago the IIHF wisely decided that Canada would host the tournament every 2 years, since attendance in Canadian cities is so abundant it embarrasses some other countries.

Using outside the box thinking, it was determined that splitting 2 years between the 2 largest Canadian cities, which also happen to be hockey crazy, would guarantee massive attendance. Furthermore, since both arenas hold 20,000 people, it would allow a larger fan base than normal to see the games. The demand is usually huge, and there are always more fans than tickets. Therefore, this idea was a stroke of genius.

Well, maybe not.

Canada got off to a flying start at the 2015 World Juniors with an impressive 8-0 win over Slovakia. All the guns seemed to be firing, the defence was solid, and Canada begins their quest for gold.

The attendance in Montreal, however, was underwhelming. In fact, it was flat-out disappointing.

The Canada/Slovakia game was played at the Bell Centre in front of 14,142 people, when in fact it can hold 20,273. That’s over 6,000 unsold tickets and that’s unacceptable.

And the argument that it was only Slovakia doesn’t hold water, because there are more than enough hockey fans out there who would gladly attend in other Canadian cities. Vancouver? People would bus in from Kelowna, Vernon and beyond for the chance to see a world junior game. Hamilton? Fans would likely still buy tickets after it was sold out just for the souvenir ticket stub. You think Winnipeg would have empty seats, much less 6,000 of them? Forget about it.

To say it’s surprising is putting it mildly. As much as I like to see the games spread out across the country, I could see why the powers-that-be decided on this Montreal-Toronto union, it was practically a given that the fans would show up in record numbers.

So what possible excuse can Montreal fans have for not showing up? I personally don’t care if Canada was playing Jamaica, I would go if the game was in my province. I honestly thought a sellout at the Bell Centre was a certainty, instead the game looked like it was being played in Buffalo.

As proud as we are of how our country performs at the tournament, we also take an enormous amount of pride in how we support it. For goodness sake, we do such a good job we were awarded the honor of hosting every 2 years. And yet here we are, the first game of a tournament Canadians look forward to almost as much as the Stanley Cup playoffs, and there are 6,000 unsold tickets.

The Canadian team is doing their part on the ice, the players have worked hard all year and at the training camp, now the Canadiens fans need to do their part in the stands.

17 thoughts on “Montreal Fans Unimpressive at World Juniors”

  1. John, LOL No one envies the loser leafs. You delude yourself.
    Leaf fans are bleating lemming zombies that go nuts over a cliff if the loser leafs make the playoffs once in their lifetime.
    Au contraire my very stupide not-frere the leafs and their zombie hockey tsn tv bleaters are rightfully loathed and despised in most of Canada. Canadian fans and politicians alike are outraged at being abused by old soviet union tsn leaf tv in the new rogers tv deal.

    The leafs spend stolen money and tv time from the rest of Canada in a criminally incompetent resultless fashion.
    Yes their market region/Ontario bleeds/robs the rest of Canada of its wealth like colonial Europeans without producing a decent hockey product. Leafs are a bloated national disgrace.
    Leaf fans delude themselves about leaf greatness like you believing your wife telling you its SO big (nyet nyet petit soviet John) when the leafs are pathetic losers bloated with ill gotten cash and tv time. No amount of tsn soviet style leaf propaganda will change that. It just makes most Canadians hate leafs and tsn/rogers all the more.
    Leaf fans are starved for anything that resembles decent hockey so they lunge at filling seats to watch junior/ boys hockey that is leaps and bounds better that the chronic sad sack nhl mens? hockey the leafs abuse their viewers with.
    Montreal and the rest of Canada has far less cash and a more credible and substantive hockey product unlike the desolate wasteland of chronically pathetic politboro leafdom.
    Ha Ha Leafs symbolize all that is pathetic! So do their fans and TV idiots!

  2. I went to the Canada/Germany game only because I was offered free tickets. I was seated along the glass and the price on the stub was $250. How can they charge $250 to watch a bunch of 17-19 years olds play? Don’t get me wrong, I love the WJC and watch it religiously every year but there is no way I would be able to afford paying this kind of money. Not to mention when they first started selling the tickets you were forced to buy every the entire package. Another buddy of mine spent $3,000 for his two tickets and ended up selling all the Team Canada games at face value and packaged them with another non-Team Canada game just so his loss wouldn’t be that bad. Hockey Canada and the IIHF really need to think this out for 2017. They really dropped the ball on this one and now they are blaming the fans for the empty seats? Gie me a break!

  3. Obviously Hockey Canada (HC) is brutally incompetent and totally blew it. Toronto fans are bleeding cash as their bizarre blind support of the pathetic loser leafs proves and Toronto cannot be compared to anything normal in Canada.

    Clearly HC lacked a meaningful strategy for success in Montreal, the poorest of Canadas largest Cities. Simple attempts like working with corporations and other major employers in Montreal would get the seats filled. What works in Toronto is effortless sales in our richest big City where wealth abounds in a city desperate for anything better than the sad sack leafs. Montreal requires effort and not lazy insolence.

  4. Darrin with your salary i guess you can afford the ridiculous price of these tickets. I would be curious to compare when they have these tournaments in Saskatoon if the price tickets are the same. Also in other areas of Canada there are not 20 000 capacity arena’s. I bought 2 tickets for USA VS Canada and it costs me close to 400$ for tickets in the whites. Do you consider that normal? Why don’t you criticize Hockey Canada for not having these games more accessible for the general public? They dont have money issues. When the tournament is oversees the price tickets for the host team are not through the roof. Stop trashing Montreal or to that fact Toronto if your not looking at all the facts.

  5. I’d actually like to see more from McDavid in this tournament, and how he plays against elite players in the world, before I anoint him the second coming, but thanks for asking.

  6. Another ‘writer’ that is clueless about the topic he chooses to write about. Maybe in your next masterpiece, you can jump on the McDavid bandwagon and tell us why he’s awesome, like the rest of your Lemmings?

  7. The public has spoken, the issue is clearly ticket prices. And thus, I will put together something that reflects this.

  8. I live in Montreal, have a 10-pack to Habs season games and thought about going to the Juniors during the Holidays … but, at $100 a ticket??? forget it.
    Ticket prices explain everything.

  9. Ridiculous article. I’m from vancouver and this has everything to do with pricing and nothing to do with fan interest. The last time the WJHC were in vancouver, I paid 20 bucks for a game in the upper bowl against the Suisse. How much are the team Canada games against no names? Sorry inflation has not gone up 10 times since the last time I watched this tournament. This year, I paid 200 bucks to watch a Seahawks game in the upper bowl. I paid 200 bucks to watch a college football game on the sidelines. I paid 70 bucks to watch the canucks season opener. But I would not pay 200 bucks to watch a prelim game against a weak opponent in a tourney that only one side (Canada) cares about.

    • Excellent points. Hockey Canada failed miserably in all aspects of its sales strategy in Montreal.
      As a Canadian I am outraged by HFs globally embarrassing failure.
      HF is a national disgrace!
      In the real world where results matter HF heads would roll and so they should!

  10. They might not be showing up for the simple fact that Hockey Canada priced the tickets out of reach of the average hockey fan. Otherwise the Bell Centre would be sold out every game.

  11. In regards to the attendance at Bell Center, it was Boxing Day, so more than likely many had decided to spend their cash on the arguebly largest sale of the year and were content to watch at home with family and friends on their brand new and still overpriced entertainment system. Or couch. Or whatever…
    And to assume attendace would improve in any other city is just as silly as what the organizers did when they set this up in the first place.
    Except Winnipeg. Would have been standing room only cause we are insane about hockey in general and who wouldn’t want to see our Jets prospects strutting their stuff!
    Go Canada Go!

  12. I am tired of journalists putting down Montreal and Toronto as hockey towns. How many journalists pay $150 – $200 a ticket for a Germany game? How many of you bought tickets as christmas gifts for your families and friends?
    I was at the game last night in Montreal. The majority of the fans there in my opinion were given the tickets (ie corporate packages purchased). The organizers gambled that the corporate community would buy a vast majority of the tickets. Holiday season and corporate outings do not work well. So here we are, 12 000 on a Saturday night….with absurd pricing…don’t confuse patriotism and or love of the game with ability to pay.

  13. So what were the prices for the tickets? I saw $66-$79 for Sweden-Russia in the Upper Bowl.
    Darrel makes a good point about sports fans in Canada, beyond hockey we don’t embrace a lot. College sports in Canada compared to the US is a glaring example.

  14. By any chance did you look at ticket prices? The Toronto-Montreal scheme was drummed up because people thought the ticket prices could be set to absurd levels and they would be bought. At these prices the game wouldn’t have sold out anywhere.

  15. As a country we are very poor at supporting anything but NHL hockey , and the Blue Jays in their glory days. l live in Nanaimo, when the population was 1/6 of what it is now (the 60s vs 21st century) our Senior A lacrosse team then had a larger fan base and better attendance figures than the present team and Nanaimo is 6x larger.
    The attendance in the BCHL one of the top Jr A leagues in Canada went DOWN the last time the NHL locked out the players. The Nanaimo Cippers of the BCHL of the 70s drew more fans than the president day Nanaimo Clippers, despite the present day team having 3x the population to draw from. The VI Raiders , one of the powerhouses in the BCJFL saw their attendance fall by at least 30%-50% this season.
    Friday night (high school) football in Texas probably draws more fans in a year than all university sports in Canada combined draws in a year. I went to a BC high school football semifinal in Nanaimo , each team had more players than there was spectators (it was free). Almost every American football player in the CFL played in front of more spectators in university than in a CFL game.
    We are not even great pro hockey fans in Canada,Quebec and Winnipeg did relocate
    We are very poor sport fans in Canada.
    For those who doubt that , go to a university or college , football , hockey , soccer or basketball game (they all have players of a high skill level) and report how easy it was to count the attendance.
    Add the fact that we are lousy fans (except in certain circumstances) to the pricing of the tickets , I can understand why there are unsold tickets.
    Who did they hire as an adviser on ticketting , an ex CEO of BC Ferries ?
    Overcharge for your product , watch as your seats remain unsold. Priceless

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