NHL attendance since the lock-out

With the recent financial problems experienced by several NHL teams this season, most notably, the Phoenix Coyotes, the Atlanta Thrashers, the New York Islanders and the Dallas Stars, I decided to have a look at the league attendance since the 2004-05 lock-out, to see if the attendance woes of certain teams are only one-year aberrations or a constant problem over the past few years.

The numbers in bold indicate the team’s best season attendance-wise.
NHL attendance since the lock-out (Downloadable Excel format)

Here you can find a link to all the current NHL arenas and their capacity

Below you will find the team ranking by division:
Northeast Division:
1. Canadiens
4. Maple Leafs
6. Senators
8. Sabres
19. Bruins

Atlantic Division:
3. Flyers
10. Rangers
16. Penguins
27. Devils
30. Islanders

Southeast Division:
11. Lightning
20. Capitals
21. Hurricanes
24. Panthers
28. Thrashers

Northwest Division:
5. Flames
7. Canucks
9. Wild
17. Oilers
22. Avalanche

Central Division:
2. Red Wings
12. Blackhawks
18. Blues
25. Blue Jackets
26. Predators

Pacific Division:
13. Sharks
14. Stars
15. Kings
23. Ducks
29. Coyotes

Conclusions: All Canadian cities fare very well, five of them ranking in the top-seven teams in attendance, with the exception of the Edmonton Oilers, mainly because Rexall Place has a seating capacity of only 16,839 fans (albeit each game has been sold-out since the lock-out). Rexall Place, built in 1974, is also the third oldest arena only behind the Madison Square Garden and the Nassau Veterans Coliseum. Thus, the need to build a new facility in Edmonton.

Among the Sunbelt cities, only the Tampa Bay Lightning, the San Jose Sharks, the Dallas Stars and the Los Angeles Kings rank in the top fifteen teams in attendance since the lock-out.

Unsurprisingly, the New York Islanders, the Phoenix Coyotes, the Atlanta Thrashers, the Nashville Predators and the Florida Panthers are among the worst in attendance. Each of these teams has had moderate success on the ice since the lock-out, having problems qualifying for the playoffs.

The only exception being the New Jersey Devils, ranked 27th in the league despite being perennial playoffs team since the lock-out thanks to Martin Brodeur, among others.

Eight NHL teams are having their best season so far at the gates, such as the Nashville Predators, whose attendance numbers have improved by more than a thousand so far this year. Teams with ownership uncertainty like the Dallas Stars, have experienced the biggest drop in attendance this year, a drop of almost 3,000 fans per game.

Finally, only three teams have had an average attendance below 80% of their arena’s capacity since the lock-out. Without much surprise, these teams are the Islanders, the Coyotes and the Thrashers, three of the most unstable NHL organizations these past recent years.

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Filed Under: Anaheim DucksBoston BruinsBuffalo SabresCalgary FlamesCarolina HurricanesChicago BlackhawksColorado AvalancheColumbus Blue JacketsDallas StarsDetroit Red WingsEdmonton OilersFeaturedFlorida PanthersLos Angeles KingsMinnesota WildMontreal CanadiensNashville PredatorsNew Jersey DevilsNew York IslandersNew York RangersNHLNHL TeamsOttawa SenatorsPhiladelphia FlyersPhoenix CoyotesPittsburgh PenguinsSan Jose SharksSt. Louis BluesTampa Bay LightningToronto Maple LeafsVancouver CanucksWashington CapitalsWinnipeg Jets

About the Author: Working as a freelance sports writer and translator, Fred, 33, graduated from Laval University in Quebec City, earning a bachelor of translation in 2002. An avid fan of the Northeast division teams, he's also a long time fan of the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens. Fred also speaks fluently French and Spanish. http://twitter.com/FredPoulin98 www.traductions-quebec.com

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by TB Lightning Feed, Cédric , Fred Poulin, Marlon Foley, Sam Obermyer and others. Sam Obermyer said: RT @FredPoulin98: NHL attendances since the lock-out http://hockeyindependent.com/blog/slasher98/31591/ a complete breakdown of attendan … [...]

  2. Al Cimaglia says:


    The only reason the attendance figures for the Hawks shows a decline from three years ago is because slightly over 700 seats were removed and replaced with bars.

    Otherwise the Hawks would have averaged the largest attendance per game in the last three seasons.

  3. [...] NHL attendence records released (since lock out). Where does your team fall on the list? [...]

  4. Alain says:

    These numbers are wrong. Your using nhl stats that are posted publicly which are inflated for the southern belt teams. Its tickets distributed and actual attendance let alone paid attendance. Court documents prove coyotes have never had a single season over 12 000. Nasville, Tampa bay, Florida and Atlanta have also been caught fudging attendance numbers. Islanders don’t lie about attendance which why they’re lower than a few more teams than they should be.

    If Canadian teams and northern us teams like rangers, wings and flyers used the same math as southern belt teams, they’d all average more than 30-40 thousand in attendance a game.

    • Alain says:

      It’s tickets distributed NOT actual attendance let alone paid attendance

      • Alain says:

        Also note some of the southern belt teams have ridiculously low price points and incentives for people to attend yet even with this and lying about attendance are at the bottom.

        • Fred Poulin says:

          I totally agree that it’s tickets distributed and not necessarily tickets sold, but it’s hard to prove what percentage of the tickets is actually paid! I also agree that the ticket price is much lower in some cities compared to let’s say Montreal or Toronto!

  5. [...] NHL attendance ranks since the lock out. Where does your team fall in attendance? Higher or lower than expected? [...]

  6. RudiGenovese says:

    Ya but New Jersey also has one of the more expensive ticket prices in the league, so that’s part of why they are so low on this list despite being a good team.

  7. TZM says:

    Rudy face the facts ….considering how good the devils have been for years, their attendance isnt great….i am pretty sure tickets are expensive in montreal, toronto, philly, detroit etc.

  8. Chris says:

    There is a couple of ways to look at this. Nashville is the third smallest arean seating capacity in the NHL, however their % is always at 87% or better. The Preds have only been under the average of 14,000 three seasons and those were the three season that Leipold ran off season ticket holders and almost 22 million dollars in corporate support a year. In all honesty Nashville has done fine and now with a strong local ownership will only do better. By the way Nashville has never lied about attendance numbers, that was an article out of Canada that not only cleared up by the Preds organization but the NHL itself.