NHL Season Opens

By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek

January 18, 2013

The NHL drops its first puck of 2013 this weekend, culminating a lockout that claimed three months and 40% of the regular season. After its second work stoppage in seven years, teams are working to reenergize disinterested fans and curb the lockout’s long-term implications. The Carolina Hurricanes, for example, lost 7% of their season-ticket base during the lockout, and now might have to increase ticket prices within the next few years.

While most teams took a hit during the lockout, the Chicago Blackhawks actually saw their season ticket waiting list increase by nearly 250 fans. The team, which struggled to draw fans earlier in the decade, has led the NHL in per-game attendance for four consecutive seasons.

The big news isn’t that the Hurricanes lost season-ticket holders – nearly every team did. What’s most impressive is that while fans were walking away from the NHL, interest in the Blackhawks increased. It truly is a testament to owner Rocky Wirtz, who turned the franchise around after taking over for his late father in 2007.

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