NHL Sees Historic Decline in Attendance; Hockey News Blames Phoenix Coyotes
The Phoenix Coyotes officially have the worst attendance record in the NHL, and Hockey News, or the "Canadian Bible," as it is referred to in certain circles, is blaming the team for driving down the entire league's attendance average.
The average per-game attendance for the NHL at this time last season was 17,776. Now, the league average is 16,606, and Hockey News says, " The dismal Phoenix Coyotes account for a significant amount of the decline."
Sadly, Hockey News is probably right.
The Coyotes have the worst per-game attendance in the league by nearly 3,000 fans. The Coyotes are averaging 9,826 fans per game, almost 7,000 fewer than the rest of the league.
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The next worst team, the New York Islanders, have about 12,500 fans come out each night, ut they're playing second fiddle to the Big Apple's team-of-choice, the New York Rangers.
The latest attendance numbers are a real indication of the effect bankruptcy has had on the team's fan-base.
Last season, despite being low by NHL standards, the Coyotes drew an average of 14,875 fans per game. With the league average about 17,000 in the 2009 season, at least the Coyotes broke 10,000 and weren't the laughingstock of the entire league.
Hockey News points out that most teams tend to lie about attendance by about 2,000 fans, so the Coyotes average attendance record could be as low as 7,000.
Leading the league in attendance are the Montreal Canadiens, averaging about 20,000 fans per game. Considering the Habs are currently in second-to-last place in their division, their attendance once again supports the theory that Canadians will go to hockey games no matter how shitty the team.
(Note: The Hockey News attendance chart made an error and put the Coyotes 2008 attendance numbers in its 2009 column. Click here for accurate 2009-10 numbers from ESPN.)