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Friday, March 02, 2007

Preds attendance soaring since All-Star Break

The Preds currently have the best record in the NHL, but Nashville has taken a beating this season among hockey writers and fans for not filling seats to support the team.

Since the All-Star Break in late January, the Preds are averaging 16,122 fans per game and have sold out four of their past eight games. This doesn't put the team on par with the nightly capacity crowds in hockey hotbeds such as Toronto, Detroit and Montreal, but it is a major improvement. Fans are supporting this team, and crowds this season (as usual) have been engaged and vocal when it comes to what is taking place on the ice. This is not front-page news in the hockey world, but I'd like to see some of the Preds' harsher critics from traditional hockey circles at least note that the community is filling seats to cheer on the team instead of continuing to pile on based on attendance numbers from earlier in the season. Here are the Preds' figures since the All-Star break (sellouts designated with an asterisk):

Feb. 3 Ducks: 17,113*
Feb. 8 Leafs: 15,018
Feb. 10 Kings: 17,113*
Feb. 14 Sharks: 13,836
Feb. 17 Wild: 17,113*
Feb. 19 Coyotes: 15,862
Feb. 22 Canadiens: 15,808
Feb. 24: Red Wings 17,113*
I'm curious why there has not been much mention of New Jersey's attendance woes. A perennial playoff team during the past decade that is currently right behind the Preds in the overall standings, the Devils rank below Nashville in attendance in a much larger market (Newark, Exit 16W, Northern New Jersey, whatever you choose to call it). Why is Nashville drawing the ire of reporters and fans who consider themselves insiders while New Jersey, a team that would have relocated to Nashville in 1995 if they had not pulled off a Cinderella run to win the Stanley Cup, is not?

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