Less than a decade ago, the Chicago Blackhawks were the laughingstock of the NHL. As recently as 2006, their games weren't even shown on local TV. Attendance was the second worst in the NHL at less than 13,000 per game, the fanbase in Chicago was abysmal and the Hawks had only made the playoffs once since the 1997-98 season.
A lot has changed since then.
The Hawks are the defending Stanley Cup champions, with two Cups in four years, and are atop the NHL in season attendance for the fifth year in a row. Hawks fans have a lot to be proud of, and the recent attempts of rival teams in the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators to keep Hawks fans out of their arenas is just one more thing that Hawks fans can boast about.
Why on earth would any team want to keep paying customers away from their arena?
The St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators have both began ticket sale programs to prevent Blackhawks fans from purchasing single-game tickets for their home games. If one wishes to purchase tickets for a game against the Blackhawks, the individual must also purchase tickets for another game at the same time.
Perhaps more puzzling is that both teams were in the bottom half of attendance last season, despite the Blues making the playoffs.
The Blues were 18th in the league in attendance and the Predators were 23rd.
Of all organizations, the Blues should know better than to alienate division rivals. Major League Baseball's St. Louis Cardinals, the Blues' crosstown companions, have long thrived on a rivalry with division rival Chicago Cubs. Nashville...well, we'll let you know when they have a rival in a sport.
In the Hawks 2013 season, the boys in red took two of three at St. Louis and took both games from the Preds in Nashville. It must have been the few thousands of Hawks fans in the arena that won the game for the Blackhawks as well as the other 15 games they won on the road.
The Blues were 15-10 at home, including games against the Hawks, while the Predators were 11-13. Apparently, the Blackhawks were responsible for the other 19 losses between the two teams in the strike-shortened 48-game season.
Go ahead, folks. Your 18th- and 23rd-ranked attendances are sure to boom because you won't let Hawks fans buy tickets. It's obvious that people are scrambling for tickets in the first place, judging by the 17,000 or less fans that come to the game otherwise.
Perhaps poor marketing decisions are the reason why neither team has ever won a Stanley Cup.