There is "room for concern" across the NHL, as fans have not "been showing up in force like they were" during the '19-20 season, according to Sean Shapiro of THE ATHLETIC. Teams have "typically sold out their home openers," but in many cases, turnout has "dropped." The Penguins' sellout streak ended after 14 years, the Predators sellout streak is "in peril," and the Blackhawks had a crowd below capacity for the first time in 535 games in Sunday’s loss to the Red Wings. The Maple Leafs, who admittedly have "had on-ice performance issues," are averaging 18,351 fans through four home games. Since the team moved to Scotiabank Arena full time in '99, the Maple Leafs have "never had an average attendance below 19,000." During the '19-20 season, before the COVID-19 shutdown, the average attendance at an NHL game was 17,423 fans per game. This season that average has "already dropped to 16,256 through 74 games," and it is "likely that number is going to drop this week with 28 of the 32 teams already having already hosted their home opener -- and most likely sellout option -- in the early season." Teams have "scrambled to capture the long-term ticket holder, with teams typically allowing season-ticket holders to roll their already-paid season tickets into the 2022-23 season if they have any reservations, one way or the other, when it comes to COVID-19 protocols." Teams also have "seen interest wane in full-season packages" (THEATHLETIC.com, 10/26).
For the first time since moving into Scotiabank Arena full time in '99, the Maple Leafs are not averaging 19,000 fans per gameGETTY IMAGES