NHL Ticket Sales: Why Chicago Blackhawks Fans Have Redeemed Themselves

Adam Rickert@adam_rickertAnalyst IIAugust 23, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 17: Fans of the Chicago Blackhawks cheer during the National Anthem before the Blackhawks take on the Phoenix Coyotes in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on April 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Coyotes defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/ Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Today, the United Center is one of the loudest stadiums in hockey. Blackhawks fans have filled it to the brim game in and game out for the last several years, and the team has responded with winning performances.

However, Chicago fans are often ridiculed by other fanbases. People continually say that maybe it was the fans who responded to the team's winning instead.

See, back in 2008, the Blackhawks were not a playoff team. Due to their winning problems, they ranked a measly 19th out of the 30 NHL teams in attendance.

But that was nothing compared to the years before.

In 2006 and 2007, the Blackhawks finished both seasons with the second-worst attendance in all of hockey, averaging just over 12,000 per game each year. That means that over 7,000 seats at the United Center were empty each game on average.

This is unheard of for an Original Six team and is hard to believe even if the team was struggling on the ice.

Toronto has struggled ever since the lockout, but they still bring in top attendance records. Why did Chicago?

Think about it. How could the Blackhawks, an Original Six franchise, have put up worse attendance numbers than some of these other teams?

They had less fans than the Phoenix Coyotes, who were struggling just as much in the standings.

They had less fans than the Columbus Blue Jackets, who at that point had never come anywhere close to the playoffs.

Worst of all, they had less fans than the now-relocated Atlanta Thrashers.

Then, in 2009, the Blackhawks' success on the ice skyrocketed, as they made the playoffs for the first time in seven years.

Suddenly, Chicago's attendance took off, and the team finished first in the league.

They had more fans than the Maple Leafs.

They had more fans than the Detroit Red Wings, who were the defending Stanley Cup champions and perennial playoff lock.

They had more fans than the Montreal Canadiens, the most storied franchise in hockey, owners of the largest stadium in the NHL and a team that was playing its best hockey since its most recent Stanley Cup championship in 1993.

The Blackhawks have continued putting up unbelievable attendance numbers, as they have finished first in NHL attendance every year since, with 2012 being their fourth consecutive year at the top.

This inconsistency, however, has led many fans to disrespect Chicago fans, and they have been known recently to be one of the most fair-weathered fanbases in sports.

This past week, however, something happened that should gain the Blackhawk fans a little more respect in the sports community.

The NHL labor talks haven't been going over so smoothly, and it looks as if there is a good chance that there could be yet another lockout.

The feuding and greed often can repel fans from the game.

Fans wonder, with good reason, why they should buy tickets to games that might not even happen? Why should they support two sides who are greedy enough to put the whole season on the line and not make any money at all if they can't reach an agreement?

But this week, Blackhawks regular-season tickets went on sale to the general public, and according to the Chicago Tribune, fans have shown no signs of being deterred whatsoever.

According to the article, written by Tribune reporter Chris Kuc, 99 percent of season tickets have been renewed, and the waiting list for season tickets has reached about 11,000.

This means that the waiting list for season tickets alone is almost the same amount of fans as the average attendance in 2006 and 2007.

In Kuc's article, Hawks ticket director Chris Werner explains that despite a potential lockout, Blackhawks fans' interest in the team has remained high.

The phone lines and the number of ports people could get into on the web reached its capacity right out of the gate. We saw a tremendous amount of interest and that interest sustained itself for a similar amount of time as in the past.

It seems as if Blackhawks fans are staying loyal to their team, eager to spend their hard-earned money to watch a team that has slightly declined since their 2010 Stanley Cup championship.

Clearly, these fans are still showing as much support as they can, and they really want to watch their Hawks get back on the ice.

Even if the league's government and two sides continue to feud over their greed, the fans don't want to protest. They want to cheer during the National Anthem, and they want to sing "Chelsea Dagger" a hundred times again this year.

They have redeemed themselves by trying their best to ensure that this Original Six franchise and major American city is loaded with true hockey fans.

Even though their team may not win one game in 2012-13.


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