NHL attendance down overall, but up in second half

sillyfans.jpgThe Biz of Hockey featured a story that has some good news and some bad news regarding NHL attendance figures. The bad news is that – overall – league wide gates dropped 2.2 percent compared to the 2008-09 season. The good news, though, is that things went up in the second half of the season as teams geared up for the playoffs and the Olympics increased interest (at least on some level) in the sport.

SportsBusiness Daily reported that overall attendance in the NHL is down 2.2 percent from last season. In December, Biz of Hockey looked at how attendance was doing and found that it was down almost 5 percent from where the league finished in ’09. The second half of the NHL season saw a sizable recovery possibly due to momentum gained from the Winter Classic, Olympics and playoff battles. And, despite the overall drop for the league’s worst draw the Phoenix Coyotes, the team finished 12.4 percent higher than it’s first-half percentage. The Coyotes weren’t the only team to see a second-half boost, the Nashville Predators finished 7 percent higher than they stood at mid-season while the Tampa Bay Lightning, Los Angeles Kings and Carolina Hurricanes drew just over 5 percent more fans. Only two teams saw second-half losses, the New York Rangers and the Atlanta Thrashers, both teams finished under 1 percent less than they were at mid-season.

Overall, the league drew finished 2.24 percent higher at the end of the season than where it stood at mid-season.

Even if you don’t really care about the “business side” of hockey, revenue obviously will have a big effect on the ice. For one thing, salary cap ceilings and minimums reflect how much the league makes. And -of course – the better a team does at the box office, the more money they’ll have to acquire stars.

Hey, maybe we’ll get a bunch of 7-game series so the NHL will make big bucks and “everyone” wins? (Except, you know, the teams who lose.)

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner.)

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    Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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    So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

    The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

    No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

    He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

    Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

    Carey Price
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    There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

    Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

    ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

    So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

    Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

    (But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)

    Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

    After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

    Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

    Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

    As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

    The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

    Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

    They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

    The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

    Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.

    Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby


    Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.

    That apparently won’t happen regarding Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.

    Dubinsky told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.

    “Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”

    In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.

    One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.

    Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?

    Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).