‘Canes captain Staal admits crowd was ‘a little sparse’ in win over Preds

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We’ve written about Carolina’s woeful attendance numbers on PHT already this season — they’re drawing just 12,404 per game, down 3,000 from last year — and on Tuesday, that narrative continued during the club’s 2-1 win over Nashville.

From the Raleigh News & Observer:

It wasn’t nearly as loud as the Hurricanes probably deserved, outplaying one of the NHL’s best teams on its way to a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators, but it was the best an announced crowd of 9,161 could do Tuesday – a figure that has become all too common for a team that ranks 29th out of 30 teams in attendance this season, thanks to fewer discounts and complementary tickets off the ice and a general lack of interest in the team on the ice.

These are unusual times. The Hurricanes hadn’t had a decent-weather crowd in four figures since 2003. (The blizzard-brave 6,896 in January 2010 clearly endured exceptional circumstances.) They have had two in the past three weeks. As the momentum of the Stanley Cup win in 2006 has ebbed, along with the playoff runs that bookended it, so have the crowds. A few years ago, an audience this small would have been unthinkable.

“It was a little sparse,” Hurricanes captain Eric Staal said. “But the people who were there were into it, energetic.”

Much like Florida — the NHL’s 30th-ranked team in terms of attendance — the Hurricanes have implemented practices this season designed to put “more emphasis” on season-ticket holders.

Translation: They’re not papering the building anymore.

Fewer complimentary and/or discounted tickets have been made available this year, which means lower attendance numbers but potentially higher ticket revenue. Per team president Don Waddell, some projections suggest ticket revenue could actually rise this year, compared to the ’13-14 season (when the ‘Canes drew 15, 483 per game).

“More than half felt season-ticket holders had people sitting next to them were paying the lesser price for their ticket, and they felt that was not fair,” Waddell said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to protect their value while also trying to reach that individual ticket buyer.”

As such, attendance numbers have dropped this season — though clearly some of that has to do with a lackluster on-ice product. The guy largely responsible for that product, ‘Canes head coach Bill Peters, says he isn’t letting low attendance become an issue with his team.

“If we played and 20,000 was there, or if we played and nobody was there we’re still going to play and we’re still going to do the same things,” he told the News & Observer earlier this month. “For me, my focus is on the 200 by 85 (foot rink) and my guys.”