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Monday, June 1, 2015

2014-15 Worldwide Hockey Attendance Report

The Chicago Blackhawks were the most watched team on the planet for the seventh consecutive season in 2014-15, drawing a total of 892,532 fans for an average of 21,769 fans per game which was 110.4% capacity at the United Center. They were also the road attendance leaders as the NHL's top drawing card, averaging 18,630 for their road games, which was 105.8% capacity of the visiting arenas.

Blackhawks salute fans
The Blackhawks salute the world's largest fanbase

Runners up were the Montreal Canadiens at 21,286 which was 100.1% capacity at the Bell Centre.

Montreal fans
Montreal fans are among the most passionate in the NHL

The Detroit Red Wings were third with 20,027 per game (100%), followed by the Philadelphia Flyers, who drew 19,270 on average. The Flyers are the first team on the list to play to less than 100% capacity at 98.6%.

The fifth placed Washington Capitals were this year's beneficiaries of hosting the Winter Classic, which drew 42,832 to rise their average attendance to 19,009 and 105.8% of capacity. For comparison, last year the Capitals drew and average of 18,054 at 97.6%, which was 14th best in the league last season.

The Calgary Flames were 6th at 19,097 (99%) followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs, (19,062/101.3%) and the Minnesota Wild (19,023/106%) in 7th and 8th place.

The Tampa Bay Lightning (18,823/98%) and Vancouver Canucks (18,710/98.9%) rounded out the Top 10 worldwide.

Vancouver's Green Men
Vancouver's fans are unlike any other

The San Jose Sharks were 11th at 18,707 (109.2%) thanks to a boost from the 70,205 who attended their Stadium Series game at Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL. They were followed by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 12th with an average of 18,617 (101.3%).

Considering their poor record on the ice, the Buffalo Sabres were an impressive 13th at 18,580 (97.4%) with the St. Louis Blues in 14th with 18,545 (96.8%). The defending champion Los Angeles Kings (18,265/100.2%) were 15h and the Ottawa Senators 16th at 18,246 (95.3%).

The New York Rangers (18,006/100%) and the Boston Bruins (17,565/100%) both played to full houses at 16th and 17th, limited by the smaller capacities of their arenas but the last two over the league average of 17,497.

Bruins Fans
Bruins fans like to be a part of the action

The Dallas Stars were the first of the teams to play to less than an 18,000 average at 17,350 which was 93.6% in 19th place. The Anaheim Ducks complete the Top 20 at 16,874 at 98.3% capacity.

The Nashville Predators at 21st drew an average of 16,854 (98.5%) at home, but were the poorest draw on the road at 17,006, down to 93.4%. The Edmonton Oilers, whose overall attendance was limited by the size of the 41-year-old Rexall Place, which seats just 16,839, did play to 100% capacity for 22nd. The Colorado Avalanche were the first NHL team to play at less than 90% capacity as they averaged 16,176 for 89.8% in 23rd place worldwide.

The first overseas club makes the list at #24, as traditional European attendance leaders SC Bern easily lead all non-NHL teams with an average of 16,164 (94.4%). Not only do they lead all of Europe by over 2,000 fans per game, they are also a well organized and intimidating presence unlike anything seen in North American rinks.

Back to the NHL, the Columbus Blue Jackets at 85.5% capacity for an average of 15,511 at 25th. The vastly improved New York Islanders may have also benefitted from fans who wanted to take in a final game at Nassau Coliseum as they played to 94.8% capacity for an average of 15,334 for 26th overall, up from last in the NHL at 11,059 in 2010-11.

The New Jersey Devils are 27th at 15,189 (86.2%) while the Winnipeg Jets faithful sold out every game for a 100.2% capacity at the tiny MTS Centre (capacity 15,004) to place 27th in the NHL and 28th worldwide at 15,037.

Of the seven Canadian NHL franchises, Toronto leads at 101.3% capacity, followed by Winnipeg at 100.2%, Montreal at 100.1%, Edmonton at 100%, Calgary at 99% with Vancouver just behind at 98.9% and Ottawa at 96.3%, showing that the passion and interest in the game in Canada is alive and well, making a good case for the putting a franchise back in Quebec some day, either through expansion or relocation.

It's back to Europe for KHL leaders Dynamo Minsk of Belarus at 14,120 (93.6%) in 29th followed by the Arizona Coyotes at 13,345, the first NHL team under 80% capacity at 77.9% for 30th worldwide. German DEL leaders Eisbaren Berlin (Berlin Polar Bears) are 31st at 13,018 (91.7%), another European club whose supporters who put the "fan" in fanatic.

The Carolina Hurricanes ranked 32nd at 12,594 at just 67.4% of capacity, far below Arizona's 77.9%.

KHL champions SKA Saint Petersburg were the top club in Russia (second in the KHL) at 12,125 at 97% for 33rd.

Next is a shocker at #34, the University of North Dakota of the NCHC, who led all of NCAA college hockey at an average of 11,516 green-clad faithful, outdrawing every professional club in the world outside of the NHL, save four, and an NHL club at their Ralph Englestad Arena, playing to 99% capacity as the 34th ranked team worldwide. All the team needs now is a nickname for the fans to get behind...

Adler Manheim of the DEL is 35th at 11,320 (83.2%), ahead of the last placed club in the NHL and 36th overall in the world, the Florida Panthers, who played to just 66.1% of capacity at 11,265 per game, less than a Swiss team, two KHL clubs, two DEL clubs and even a college hockey team.

37th in the world went to Kolner Haie (Cologne Sharks) of the DEL at 11,161, which was good for 3rd in their league but a lowly 60.3% in their massive 18,500 capacity Lanxess Arena.

Cologne Sharks supporters
Cologne Sharks fans show their support with soccer-style scarves

The first club from Finland, Jokerit Helsinki was 38th in the world following their first season of play in the primarily Russian KHL, drawing an average of 10,932 (80%), a healthy boost over their 9,252 as members of the Finnish domestic Liiga last year.

Despite a dismal 4-26-5 record last year, the University of Wisconsin Badgers led the Big Ten conference of the NCAA with an average of 10,931 (71.3%) partying, singing and chanting fans in the large 15,359 capacity Kohl Center in Madison and placed 39th.

Completing the Top 40 is the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers of the Big Ten at 9,982 which was 99.8% capacity, completing college hockey's big three, as the Gophers were 3,400 above the fourth place NCAA program in attendance.

Trailing just behind are the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at 9,698 in 41st place to lead all of Canadian major junior hockey.

The 42nd ranked team in the world are the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, averaging 9,427 fans per game, tops in all of the North American minor leagues. It's back to Switzerland for the 43rd ranked club, the ZSC Zurich Lions at 9,331, followed by the Swedish attendance leaders, the Frolunda Indians of Gothenburg who topped the Swedish Hockey League with an average of 9,087 for 44th place.

The top team in the Ontario Hockey League ranks 45th, the London Knights, who drew 8,977.

Next are Slovan Bratislava, a member of the KHL from Slovakia (8,975) in 46th place, the Russian side Lokomotiv Yaroslavl also of the KHL at #47 at 8,928 (an impressive 98.7% of capacity), the DEL's Hamburg Freezers (8,906) in 48th place and Avangard Omsk again of the KHL at 8,666 per game in 49th position.

Completing the Top 50 worldwide are the Calgary Hitmen, the best attended club in Canada's Western Hockey League in Canadian Juniors in at 8,462. Only one other team in the three Canadian junior leagues, the QMJHL, OHL and WHL, drew over 7,000, that being the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads at 7,748 in 57th, although the Kitchener Rangers (OHL, 64th) were at 6,992, just shy of 7,000.

Also of note, second in the AHL were the Lake Erie Monsters of Cleveland, Ohio who played before 8,337 a night in 51st, HC Pardubice, best in the Czech Extraliga (8,298) in 52nd and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL were the final team to draw over 8,000 per game at 8,085 in 53rd place.

The ECHL leaders were the Ontario Reign at 7,656 in 59th, but they are swapping places and names with the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL for 2015-16, which will hopefully see the fans in Ontario, California turn out in even greater numbers to see players another step higher on the development ladder.

60th place went to HK Sochi, a first year club in the KHL who drew 7,557. The top club in the United Kingdom's Elite Ice Hockey League were the Nottingham Panthers at 5,266, over 500 above the second place Belfast Giants. Also of note, KAC Klagenfurt at 4,761 led the Austrian EBHL.

In North America, the top team in the junior United States Hockey League was by far and away the Sioux Falls Stampede, who drew 6,376, over 2,800 more than the next best club in the USHL! In fact, the Stampede's outstanding numbers would rank them sixth in the NCAA and eighth if they were in the Canadian Major Junior system. The leaders of the Southern Professional Hockey League were the Peoria Rivermen at 3,788. The University of Connecticut Huskies led Hockey East with 5,396, the St. Cloud State Huskies were tops in the WCHA at 4,398, the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers at 3,307 were tops in Atlantic Hockey while the Quinnipiac Bobcats topped the ECAC at 3,123.

League-wise, the NHL rules the world with an average of 17,498, followed by the surprising Big Ten at 7,357, outdrawing on average every other professional league in the world! The Swiss National League A (6,762) is third overall and the best attended league in Europe followed by Germany's Deutsche Eishockey Liga (6,419), Russia's Kontinental Hockey League (6,324), the Swedish Hockey League (6,036), the top North American minor league, the American Hockey League (5,385), the Czech Extraliga (5,113) and the ECHL (4,520), while Canada's Western Hockey League rounds out the Top 10 with 4,435, just ahead of Finland's Liiga at 4,336 and the Ontario Hockey League at 4,087, the final league over 4,000.

While the NHL rules the world, one would expect the Russian KHL to have to rank higher up the list, certainly above leagues in Switzerland and Germany and most assuredly higher than a United States collegiate league, in order to be able to dole out some of the contracts they have lavished on players since the league's formation.

1 comment:

  1. You had me, at #1! Kudos to these two guys:


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