Attendance has been a hot topic in San Jose. The Sharks have drawn an average of 17,385 fans through 29 home games and that’s a pretty respectable number compared to other teams in the NHL. That average checks in at the 18th spot so far in 2014-15, but the team has failed to post a capacity crowd in 15 of its 29 home games.
The Sharks are actually averaging more fans this year compared to their total throughout all of 2013-14 (17,133) but they are falling short of their 2012-13 (17,561) and 2011-12 (17,562). The differences may sound pretty insignificant, but the trends show the Sharks – a team known for selling out regularly – are failing to fill the building.
What’s behind the trend? The fact the Sharks are barely in the playoff picture and don’t look like a threat to win the Cup are logical and correct answers, but Joe Pavelski outlined one other polarizing topic.
Via CSN Bay Area:
“But, the way things were handled in the summer – I don’t blame some of the fans, either. There was no real buzz created. Not that there has to be, we as players own part of that and we’ve got to play better and harder. We’ve got to put our best product out there. They are bringing it for us and supporting us, and we’ve got to create that atmosphere on the ice for them.”
It’s not often you hear a player call out the front office over diminishing attendance, but that’s one of the takeaways from Pavelski’s statement. He’s not wrong, but that’s a bold statement. He backtracked some after stating it, but he’s more or less calling out his bosses for failing to make the correct moves which would breed fan excitement.
Todd McLellan’s response was more politically correct.
“We’re aware of it because we can see that the building isn’t quite as crowded as it has been. We have the biggest impact on that. We can talk about marketing and ticket sales people and all that type of stuff. The performance of the club and the direction of it has the biggest impact on who comes and who doesn’t. … We have to keep doing our job to try and get better and improve. As we do that, we believe that we can bring people back.”
McLellan is correct too, but do you blame Sharks fans for not coming out in droves after a summer in which the management forewarns the team won’t be as good? And a summer in which the team’s veterans and team leadership are flipped upside down?
The Sharks may be able to boost their attendance should they rattle off a series of wins and position themselves in a more concrete playoff position, but things could turn sour in a hurry.