The San Jose Sharks don’t have the kind of attendance issues that teams like the Florida Panthers face, but at times this season has been a trying one when measured against their past success. San Jose sold out 205 straight games until that streak was broken on Oct. 25. They have gone on to sellout just 14 of their 29 home contests and Wednesday’s game against Washington drew their smallest crowd since Feb. 2, 2006 with a total of 16,956 fans in attendance.
That’s caught Joe Pavelski’s attention, but he doesn’t blame the fans for the diminished showings.
“I think right from the start we were aware of it. The first game,” Pavelski told CSN Bay Area. “Obviously, the crowd has been there, and we love our fans. I’ll be the first to say I love playing in the Shark Tank.
“But, the way things were handled in the summer – I don’t blame some of the fans, either. There was no real buzz created. Not that there has to be, we as players own part of that and we’ve got to play better and harder. We’ve got to put our best product out there. They are bringing it for us and supporting us, and we’ve got to create that atmosphere on the ice for them.”
San Jose had an unusual summer to say the least. There was talk of a rebuild after the team’s first round collapse to the Los Angeles Kings, but that led to little material change to the team’s core.
The Sharks have since had a decent season and are in position to make the playoffs for the 11th straight campaign. Every team that enters the postseason has a chance to win it all, but the Sharks will have a tough time getting far and optimism is difficult to generate given the past playoff showings that statistically better Sharks squads have produced.
Head coach Todd McLellan is of the mindset that the team’s performance is the biggest factor in attendance numbers and that if they “keep doing our job to try and get better and improve” then they can bring people back. Which is fair because certainly there’s no question at this point that there’s a sizable fanbase willing to support this team.
In the meantime, it’s worth repeating that while their sellout streak might be broken, the crowds haven’t been bad.