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Ken Campbell - The Hockey News.


Half-empty arenas in the U.S. are growing, so why not move more teams to Canada?

Gary Bettman and his feel-good administration would undoubtedly dismiss it as nothing more then ‘a snapshot.’ When it comes to his league’s growing – or is that shrinking? – attendance problems. Bettman hates it when people throw snapshots in his face.
The night of Nov 30 was an ominous indicator for a league that is consistently being saved by its chartered members from Canada.
That night, the NHL had a slate of 10 games on the schedule. Those 10 games drew a total of 130,125 fans for an average of just 13,013 per game. All told, NHL arenas that night played to an average of just 72 per cent of capacity. Think about it. Ten games and on average they played before houses that were less then three-quarters full.
It gets worse. Much worse. Subtract the games played in Canada that night and you end up with a total of 77,473 fans for an average of just 11,068 per game. In the United States of America that night, buildings averaged 61.4 per cent of capacity.
That included a traditional market in Boston where just 11,150 came out to watch a surging Bruins team play an equally surging Tampa Bay Lightning squad. That included the home of the Stanley Cup champs, where an “announced” crowd of just 13,103, the smallest of the season, came out to see the Carolina Hurricanes host Montreal. It included a game in Long Island, where a minor league baseball-type promotion exists in which each adult who pays for a ticket gets to take a child into the game for free and an “announced” crowd of just 10,280 showed up.
We put the word announced in quotation marks because in some markets with attendance troubles, attendance is measured by the number of tickets that go out of the building, not necessarily by the number of people who come in. So, if the team gives out 2,000 free tickets, those people are counted among the crowd whether they attend or not. That way they can dupe corporate sponsors into thinking people actually go to their games.
But the news was worse in St.Louis where icy weather resulted in announced crowd of 5,410 – observers said there were no more then 1,500 actually in attendance – to watch the Blues lose to the Nashville Predators. The next night, 25 games in the Canadian Hockey League and 11 in the American Hockey League attracted more people.
It marketed the eighth time this season the Blues have played in front of fewer then 10,000 people. Last season it happened just three times league – wide.

TALK IS CHEAP

There’s always an excuse in St.Louis this season. First, it was because the Cardinals were in the playoffs. The night of Nov. 30, it was icy outside. The team stinks. But if the fan base was actually passionate about the blues, they would put up with a losing team for a couple of years, more then 1,500 people would battle icy weather and the real hockey fans would have taped the baseball games and watched them when they got home.
All of it has to make new owner Dave Checketts wonder whether it’s worth keeping his team in St.Louis. Meanwhile, new Pittsburgh Penguins owner Jim Balsillie will definitely move the Penguins if Pennsylvania’s gaming commission doesn’t choose a casino proposal that would include a new arena for his team.
How about this? Balsillie and others move their teams to places where people actually like hockey. The Winnipeg Jets left 10 years ago in the hopes hockey would catch on in the desert and, as cold as it can get there at night, people are still basically ignoring the Coyotes and their famous coach. The Lightning has caught on in Tampa Bay, but south Florida is a hockey wasteland. Carolina? Give me a break. Sellouts in seven of 13 games for the Hurricanes that year after winning the Cup?
The American Dream is dead when it comes to the NHL. But there are two strong markets in southern Ontario and Winnipeg – and possibly a third in Quebec City if they build a new rink – that would embrace the NHL and make things better for bother the owners and the players in the process.
The appetite for hockey is insatiable in southern Ontario and that’s why Balsillie could move his team to the Kitchener-Waterloo area if things collapse with the Penguins. There are enough corporate dollars to go around and the area has a far larger fan base than any of Las Vegas, Portland, Oklahoma City or Houston do. And with cost certainly now a part of life in the NHL, there’s no reason why a properly – run Winnipeg franchise couldn’t become the Green Bay Packers of the NHL.
Players and owners would both benefit. With two or three more healthy franchises replacing the moribund, that’s fewer teams with whom to share revenues. And with the players’ take tied directly into revenues, they would have more money to themselves as well.
With the exception of Ottawa, every seat in every Canadian rink has been legitimately sold the past two seasons. People in Canada are spending money on hockey. It’s time the NHL gave them more.



**There is no website for this article I tried to get it from the hockey news website but I don’t have a digital subscription I only get it in the mail. So yes I typed out the whole article. I thought it would be interesting to add to the debate of more NHL teams in Canada.**
This article is from the December 19th edition of The Hockey News
 

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The sad thing is, as long as "The Weasel" Bettman is in power, it won't happen!!!! :dunno:

Because there is no way on earth, that he would ever admit, that he made a mistake with any of his expansion teams!!

And for the many excuses that St. Louis can come up with, "The Weasel" has bigger and better ones!!!
 

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It would be nice but I think of the somewhat popularity here it is good the way it is
 

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Interesting enough this is published in the Hockey News right as the Penguins deal falls apart due to a new NHL condition that the team can't leave Pittsburgh. St. Louis is having a brutal season in attendance. Averaging 11,000 a game and with many nights that 11,000 is apparently sold and give away tickets combined not an actual attendance at the game. Maybe they should've moved to Saskatoon back in the 80s.
 

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Attendance is important but the NHL will not gain any viewers by adding Canadian teams. That is why Betteman forced expansion to the south, the 200 million people that live there blows the what, five million is the Canada praires out of the water.
 

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The NHL needs a population variation so it can get a crapload of $$$$$ this is the world of PRO Sports for ya.
 

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And viewership has been in steady decline ever since the expansion to the southern markets. Don't see the NHL winning the war. In fact the NHL is no longer the fourth sport in the United States it definately has fallen to fifth and in some circles they put the NHL in sixth or seventh below not only NASCAR but golf and some even put the tennis tour above hockey. Moving teams north won't increase viewership in the States but it won't decrease it much either.
 
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