Add the Atlanta Thrashers to the list of teams facing attendance issues

A few days ago, Joe discussed the attendance issues plaguing the Columbus Blue Jackets and Phoenix Coyotes.

Sadly, the trend of fledgling teams struggling to draw people in relatively young markets continues with the Atlanta Thrashers, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Vivlamore points out that the Thrashers set a new franchise low for attendance during Thursday’s home game against the Blue Jackets, drawing an announced audience of 8,461 people after setting a previous low of 8,820 on October 15 against the Buffalo Sabres. He points out the team’s troubling attendance figures through five games.

Here are the home attendance figures so far this season:

Oct. 8 vs. Washington – 15, 596

Oct. 20 vs. Buffalo – 8,820

Oct. 22 vs. Tampa Bay – 9,138

Oct. 29 vs. Buffalo – 10,172

Nov. 4 vs. Columbus – 8,461

That’s an average home attendance this season of  10, 437. Take away the season opener and it is 9,148.

It’s pretty hard to spin those figures, but there are a few reasons for mild optimism.

For one thing, the Thrashers seem like they’re gradually improving, even though they are doing so in a pretty subtle way. Their 6-5-2 start is good for 14 points, which would make them the seventh seed in the East if the playoffs started.

The other “plus” is that they will host their best box office draw since that home opener against the Capitals tonight, as the team will play against the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks. Considering the star power of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane – along with the fact that it’s on an ideal Saturday night – my guess is the attendance should be dramatically better for at least one evening.

Unfortunately, one good night doesn’t heal all wounds. Perhaps the Thrashers need more stability (or wins) to generate fan interest. Maybe they miss the marquee talents of Ilya Kovalchuk. Whatever the case may be, Atlanta needs to put more butts in seats.

This fight between Tom Wilson, Chris Stewart got downright gory (Video)

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For those who decry the decline in fighting – in “blood and guts” hockey – Tuesday presented a bloody moment, one fairly high on this season’s Muta scale.

If there’s something maybe a little off-kilter about you, seeing it happen to Tom Wilson may provide an additional pleasure.

Anyway, as you can see in the video above, Minnesota Wild winger Chris Stewart bloodied the Washington Capitals pest in a fight. Whether you’re for, against or neutral toward Wilson, it’s quite the sight.

Wilson may be hurt, by the way.

Milestones: Matthews, Nylander break Leafs rookie records; Chara hits 600

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Auston Matthews likely ranks as the top reason that many Toronto Maple Leafs are starting to get the same feelings they had in better times, so it only makes sense that he broke a beloved Buds’ record on Tuesday.

With his 35th goal of a potential Calder season – but a brilliant debut either way – Matthews passed Wendel Clark for the Maple Leafs’ rookie record for goals in a season.

That goal was also meaningful for William Nylander, as he extended his point streak to 12 games with an assist. This team, fueled by young players, just keeps shattering first-year marks:

Switching gears, let’s go from new to (relatively) old: Zdeno Chara collected the 600th point of his outstanding career with an assist:

Yes, it’s true that most people think of his imposing size and all-world defensive instincts in praising Chara, but he’s been a respectable point producer, too.

U.S. women end boycott, will represent USA Hockey at worlds

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The U.S. women’s national team voted in favor of accepting USA Hockey’s deal, so they’ll participate in the world championship tournament. USA Hockey recently made the news official with this press release.

The press release confirmed a report that the contract will last four years, while financial terms were kept confidential. (Team members had been seeking a living wage to represent USA Hockey.)

“Our sport is the big winner today,” Team captain Meghan Duggan said. “We stood up for what we thought was right and USA Hockey’s leadership listened. In the end, both sides came together. I’m proud of my teammates and can’t thank everyone who supported us enough. It’s time now to turn the page. We can’t wait to play in the World Championship later this week in front of our fans as we try and defend our gold medal.”

The U.S. women’s national team is scheduled to face Canada on Friday.

Here’s a screen cap of the press release for your convenience:

Logan Couture can at least speak and eat following horrifying mouth injury

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As much as many of us suffer during a trip to the dentist, few can fathom the horrors hockey players often go through when a puck, stick or fist finds their teeth/mouths. Consult this vintage PHT post from 2010 if you want to cringe, a lot.

Much like Eddie Lack “only” dealing with a neck sprain, it’s strange to be heartened to hear that Logan Couture can speak and eat after his own painful ordeal, but that’s the positive update from the Mercury News on Tuesday.

Couture, Wilson said, did not need to have his jaw wired shut after a deflected puck caught him in the mouth on Saturday when the Sharks played the Nashville Predators.

“Hey, he can speak and eat … and his jaw isn’t wired shut!” Yeesh.

To little surprise, Couture isn’t playing on Tuesday. As far as the Sharks next three games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday), that remains to be seen.

As an aside, consider this: on the same day Jonathan Drouin‘s celebrating his birthday after helping the Lightning win, Couture is lucky if he can force down some birthday cake. Life: it isn’t always fair.

PHT discussed his trip to the dentist on Monday.

More mouth pain: When David Backes felt like his face was falling off.