Photo: Sarah McLellan
Just how bad are things for the New York Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes, Atlanta Thrashers, and Columbus Blue Jackets?They’re struggling to draw more fans than some minor league teams.
To be fair, many of these teams are based in Canada where the appetite for all things hockey is insatiable, especially compared to the southern United States.
But the NHL has to be concerned that its teams full of millionaires can scarcely draw more fans than groups of teenagers.
Here’s how many fans the most unpopular teams in the NHL are averaging thus far this season:
- Islanders: 9,692
- Coyotes: 10,282
- Thrashers: 12,410
- Blue Jackets: 12,883
Now see how the top teams in North America’s minor leagues fair
The top draw from the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League)*
- Quebec: 10,692
From the OHL (Ontario Hockey League)**
- London: 8,954
From the AHL (American Hockey League)
- Hershey: 9,063
From the CHL (Central Hockey League)
- Fort Wayne: 7,449
From the WHL (Western Hockey League)***
- Calgary: 7,826
Most of the teams in these leagues only draw a few thousand fans per game, but it’s got to be disconcerting for Commissioner Gary Bettman that a few of the teams that are supposed to be feeding their best players to the NHL are actually out-drawing them, or coming close to it.
*Through the games of December 1, 2010.
**Through the games of December 7, 2010.
*** Through the games of December 6, 2010
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