NHL Attendances Following a Work Stoppage

With the financial problems experienced by several NHL teams last season, most notably, the Phoenix Coyotes, the Florida Panthers, the Dallas Stars, and the Columbus Blue Jackets, I decided to have a look at the league attendance following the 2004-05 lock-out as well as the 1994-95 shortened season of 48 games to see if the current NHL lock-out will hurt the team owners and the players more than they really think.


As you can see, the two work stoppages didn’t affect league-wide attendances throughout the NHL in both instances.

On October 5, 2005, the first post-lockout NHL season took to the ice with 15 games, and consequently all 30 teams. Of those 15 games, 11 were in front of sell-out crowds!  The NHL attracted record attendance in the 2005–06 season with 20,854,169 fans, or an average of 16,955 per game.  The Canadiens, Flames, Avalanche, Wild, Lightning and Canucks sold out all their home games following the lock-out, and six Canadian teams played to 98% capacity or better at every home game. However, the Pittsburgh Penguins had the highest attendance increase simply because a young player named Sidney Crosby made his NHL debut that year.

As you can conclude with the above numbers, the NHL owners know that rabid hockey fans will flock back to their arenas as soon as the puck is dropped again, whether it’s later in 2012-13 or next fall. This is the main reason they have been so patient during their negotiations with Donald Fehr and the NHLPA, as Gary Bettman and the league owners know the fans love hockey too much to give up completely on their favorite sport.

The NHL has had record revenues in the past few seasons and it finally signed a lucrative long-term television with NBC Sports that will give them more exposure in the USA. The owners want the players to take less and accept a 50/50 split on hockey-related revenues (HRR) like other major leagues like the NBA and the NFL, so as long as the players don’t accept to make such a concession, Bettman and company will wait even if the lock-out lasts the whole season, BECAUSE THEY KNOW HOCKEY FANS WILL COME BACK IN LARGE NUMBERS. The numbers don’t lie…