The start of a new NHL season is supposed to be a time for optimism and excitement. In the case of the Carolina Hurricanes, that feeling lasted for exactly one game before the franchise’s troubles resurfaced.
The Hurricanes opened the 2017-18 season this past weekend at home with a 5-4 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,680. A win in front of a huge home crowd to open the season is an ideal start. Unfortunately, hardly any fans showed up for the team’s second game of the season.
PNC Arena had an announced crowd of just 7,892 fans for the team’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. That’s over a 10,000 drop in attendance between the first game of the year and the second. That’s insane.
Unfortunately, the Hurricanes are more than familiar with attendance issues. In fact, while most of the attention has been on the Arizona Coyotes, the Hurricanes have been one of the league’s most troubling stories. According to The Hockey DB, the Hurricanes had the worst average attendance of any NHL team in each of the past two seasons.
The poor attendance has rightfully caused a flurry of relocation rumors over the past few years. Team owner Peter Karmanos Jr. is actively looking to sell the team, sparking reasonable suggestions that a new buyer would seek to move the franchise. Karmanos Jr. has said he’s seeking $500 million from a potential buyer.
Gary Bettman shut down any talk of relocating the Hurricanes as recently as January, but it’s hard to ignore the possibility when the current owner is looking for an exit and the team hosts a dismal crowd for its second game of the year.
What’s next for the Hurricanes? Realistically, more small crowds. Scanning the secondary ticket market, there are a lot of good seats (for fair prices) throughout the year to most Hurricanes games. That’s a shame as they have some young talent ready to emerge and could be a surprise playoff team (if things go their way) late in the year.