NHL Power Rankings: Each Team's Level of Bandwagon Fans Based on Attendance

April WeinerCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2011

NHL Power Rankings: Each Team's Level of Bandwagon Fans Based on Attendance

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    Fanbases would be so easy to judge if attendance numbers actually gauged the true fans of a hockey team.

    However, attendance numbers don't take into account the level of bandwagon fans; that is, the number of fans who are only there because the team is winning.

    Some franchises, like the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, take a lot of heat for having a mostly bandwagon fanbase. Yet, they both have pretty good attendance numbers.

    So, let's take a look at the most popular fanbases judging by highest average attendance and then analyze the level of bandwagon fans at the games.

    Attendance numbers from 2010-11 courtesy of ESPN

30. New York Islanders

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    Average attendance: 11,059

    Percentage full: 67.9

    The New York Islanders have the worst attendance numbers in the entire NHL, by quite a wide margin too. 

    The organization might argue that its because of their outdated arena, which may be a contributing factor, but it is also because of the subpar team on the ice. 

    The team can't have a high proportion of bandwagon fans because there's nothing to bandwagon around. It's hard to say if they would bandwagon around them if they were successful though. 

29. Phoenix Coyotes

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    Average attendance: 12,188

    Percentage full: 71.2

    The Phoenix Coyotes have the second-lowest attendance in the NHL and their future in Phoenix remains up in the air.

    This, despite the fact that the past two seasons have been the team's two best since arriving in Arizona. 

    There aren't bandwagon fans in Phoenix because if there were, they would have better attendance numbers. 

28. Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets Franchise

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    Average attendance: 13,469

    Percentage full: 72.6

    Last year, the Atlanta Thrashers had the third worst attendance in the league and they relocated to Winnipeg over the summer. 

    Now that the franchise is back in Canada, hockey's heartland, their arena will be packed every night, no matter their record. 

27. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Average attendance: 13,658

    Percentage full: 75.3

    The Columbus Blue Jackets are another NHL team with low attendance numbers.

    It seems like the Blue Jackets should get good attendance, since they don't have any other pro sports teams in the city to compete with.

    However, they do compete with Ohio State athletics, which is the lifeblood of the city and impossible to compete with, even if the Jackets ever were to become the best team in the league. 

26. Anaheim Ducks

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    Average attendance: 14,738

    Percentage full: 85.8

    Last season, the Anaheim Ducks were the second best team in their division and the fourth best team in their conference. 

    Yet, they still couldn't get their average attendance past about 85 percent. 

    Clearly, their fans are not bandwagon fans. The problem is probably that hockey isn't a popular sport in the warm climate of Anaheim. 

25. New Jersey Devils

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    Average attendance: 14,775

    Percentage full: 83.8

    The New Jersey Devils were one of the bottom teams in the Eastern Conference and in the league last year and their attendance numbers reflected that.

    On average, they fell below 85 percent of capacity. 

    Will more fans show up if they perform better? We'll have to wait and see. 

24. Colorado Avalanche

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    Average attendance: 14,820

    Percentage full: 82.3

    The Colorado Avalanche were the second worst team in the NHL last season, something that is reflected in their poor attendance numbers.

    Does that mean that they have a lot of bandwagon fans?

    We'll have to wait until they're a more successful team to see if all the fans come out. 

23. Dallas Stars

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    Average attendance: 15,073

    Percentage full: 81.3

    The Dallas Stars were two points out of the playoffs last season and in the Western Conference, that's a pretty good team.

    Yet, their average capacity did not even reach 82 percent.

    The poor financial system can probably be to blame for that, but the fact is that the Stars fanbase isn't full of bandwagon fans. 

22. Florida Panthers

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    Average attendance: 15,685

    Percentage full: 81.5

    The Florida Panthers were the worst team in the Eastern Conference last season and the third worst team in the league.

    Their mediocre attendance reflects that, but it really probably wouldn't be that much better even if they had a winning team.

    After all, the team is based outside of Miami. Miami is not a hockey hotbed and besides that, most of the Miami sports teams struggle with attendance.

    There's not a whole lot of bandwagon fans there. 

21. Nashville Predators

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    Average attendance: 16,142

    Percentage full: 94.3

    The Nashville Predators were the fifth best team in the Western Conference last season and had one of their most successful seasons, finally winning a playoff series.

    They actually had pretty good attendance, with their attendance just under 95 percent.

    Does that make Predators fans bandwagon fans? Possibly, to some extent. 

20. Carolina Hurricanes

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    Average attendance: 16,415

    Percentage full: 87.6

    The Carolina Hurricanes on average only filled about 88 percent of their seats last season. This was during another season where the team came just shy of making the playoffs.

    This is probably indicative of the level of bandwagon fans in Carolina. 

    The team won the Stanley Cup a few years ago, but hasn't had much success since then.

19. Edmonton Oilers

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    Average attendance: 16,839

    Percentage full: 100

    The Edmonton Oilers have one of the lower numbers of average attendance, except they also have a smaller arena.

    Their attendance is generally at capacity, despite the fact that they have been the worst team in the league for two years running.

    No bandwagon fans there. 

18. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Average attendance: 17,268

    Percentage full: 87.4

    Last season, most people didn't have high expectations for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Then, the team unexpectedly did very well during the regular season and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. 

    Once the team started doing well, their attendance got significantly better.

    There's quite a few bandwagon fans there. 

17. San Jose Sharks

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    Average attendance: 17,562

    Percentage full: 100.4

    The San Jose Sharks were the second best team in the Western Conference last season and their attendance averaged at capacity.

    While there are plenty of diehard Sharks fans, usually they'll be the first to admit that there has been an influx of bandwagon fans too. 

16. Boston Bruins

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    Average attendance: 17,565

    Percentage full: 100

    The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup last season and they understandably averaged attendance at capacity.

    Are these fans bandwagon fans?

    Possibly, after all championship teams do bring out bandwagon fans. However, Massachusetts is a hockey state, so there are probably less bandwagon fans than one might think. 

15. Minnesota Wild

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    Average attendance: 18,012

    Percentage full: 99.7

    The Minnesota Wild were one of the lower teams in the standings last season, one of the bottom five teams in the Western Conference.

    However, they still averaged almost full capacity.

    This is because people in Minnesota love their hockey, win or lose. 

14. Los Angeles Kings

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    Average attendance: 18,083

    Percentage full: 99.8

    The Los Angeles Kings made the playoffs last season, in the seventh spot with 98 points—a successful season.

    Their attendance was good too, at almost 100 percent.

    Los Angeles generally isn't considered a hockey town though, so a good portion of those attendees probably were there because of the winning record. 

13. New York Rangers

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    Average attendance: 18,108

    Percentage full: 99.5

    The New York Rangers slid into the eighth spot in the playoffs and they had great attendance too, averaging close to 100 percent.

    They are also an Original Six team, which typically draw a large crowd no matter how they're performing on the ice.

    So, it's hard to say how much of the draw is the history and how much is the winning. 

12. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Average attendance: 18,240

    Percentage full: 100.9

    The Pittsburgh Penguins average full attendance at home. A few factors contribute to this. 

    First is the winning team. However, another component could also be the brand new, world-class CONSOL Energy Center.

    Still, a good portion of Penguins fans are definitely bandwagon fans.  

11. Ottawa Senators

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    Average attendance: 18,378

    Percentage full: 99.3

    The Ottawa Senators are often one of the least respected teams in the NHL, probably because of their place in the standings.

    They're also the only Canadian team to not average 100 percent attendance. They came pretty close though, at just over 99 percent.

    If they were located anywhere else, their attendance would probably be lower, but Canadians love and support their hockey teams through the good and the bad.  

10. Washington Capitals

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    Average attendance: 18,397

    Percentage full: 100 

    The Washington Capitals have dominated the regular season for the past few years.

    Not coincidentally, they have also been selling out almost that entire time. 

    The fanbase stems from being bandwagon fans. 

9. Buffalo Sabres

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    Average attendance: 18,452

    Percentage full: 98.7

    The Buffalo Sabres had another pretty successful regular season campaign last season, finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference.

    They averaged almost 99 percent attendance last season.

    Still, a good portion of their fanbase are true diehard fans, not just jumping on the Sabres bandwagon. 

8. Vancouver Canucks

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    Average attendance: 18,860

    Percentage full: 100.3

    In their President's Trophy-winning season last year, the team averaged more than 100 percent attendance.

    Many complain that Vancouver Canucks fans are just a bunch of bandwagon fans, but in general, they probably are just like any other Canadians: passionate about their hockey.

7. St. Louis Blues

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    Average attendance: 19,150

    Percentage full: 100 

    The St. Louis Blues have not made the playoffs in a couple of seasons and the team finished 11th in the Western Conference last season.

    Yet, they still averaged full capacity at their home games.

    Those are some true die-hard fans. 

6. Calgary Flames

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    Average attendance: 19,289

    Percentage full: 100 

    The Calgary Flames failed to qualify for the playoffs again last season, but still managed to average a full house night in and night out.

    This just further proves that there are really no bandwagon fans in Canada. 

5. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Average attendance: 19,354

    Percentage full: 102.9

    There is nothing the more complete opposite of being bandwagon fans than the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    The Leafs haven't won a championship in more years than they'd like to be reminded of and haven't made the playoffs in years either.

    Yet, it is still impossible to get a ticket to a Leafs game. 

4. Detroit Red Wings

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    Average attendance: 19,680

    Percentage full: 98.1

    Detroit calls itself Hockeytown, USA, probably because very few U.S. cities can say they support their NHL club as much as Detroit.

    Even with the tough economic times in the city of Detroit, the Wings still manage to almost sell out every night. 

    Having their all-star roster doesn't hurt either. 

3. Philadelphia Flyers

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    Average attendance: 19,715

    Percentage full: 101.1

    Some would like to argue that Philadelphia Flyers fans are a bunch of bandwagon fans, but that's not a valid argument.

    The Flyers have continuously sold out for years, even selling out every game when they were the worst team in the league.

    That's the opposite of bandwagon. 

2. Montreal Canadiens

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    Average attendance: 21,273

    Percentage full: 100

    Like the other Canadian NHL franchises, the Montreal Canadiens sell out Bell Centre every night. 

    The history of the franchise, the facility and the passion of hockey fans in Canada all contribute to that. It doesn't matter that the Canadiens haven't gotten close to the Cup in years. 

1. Chicago Blackhawks

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    Average attendance: 21,423

    Percentage full: 108.7

    Last season, the Chicago Blackhawks were coming off of their first Stanley Cup win in almost 40 years, so it makes sense that they would have the highest average attendance.

    While championships bring out some bandwagon fans, there are plenty of die-hard Blackhawks fans that were there through the good and the bad.