Devils goalie Martin Brodeur knows the importance of casual hockey fans to markets like New Jersey, and he’s worried that the lockout will drive that demographic away.
“We brought a lot of attention to our sport and to our league in this area (during last year’s playoffs),” Brodeur told ESPN.com Monday. “But slowly you just see how people start asking me less about hockey around here. You have to worry about that a little bit. I know in Canada that’s not the case, but in smaller markets, you have to be concerned. I’m not talking about the hard-core hockey fans, but the general sports fans, those on the bubble who come to some hockey games. Those are the fans that help us fill things out on a Tuesday night. That’s who we might lose.”
The Devils finished 24th in NHL attendance in 2011-12, averaging a modest 15,396 per game at the Prudential Center.
The team’s run to the Stanley Cup finals – its first foray past the second round since 2003 – should’ve meant more fans in the seats this season, but according to Brodeur, the lockout will cause many fans to abandon hockey for other forms of entertainment.
In a sadly ironic twist, both the NHL and NHLPA are trying to help small markets; they just have different ideas on how to do it. The league wants to cut the share of revenue going towards the players; the players want more revenue sharing between rich and poor franchises.
Meanwhile, the lockout is only hurting that shared goal.