Ottawa, Montreal amongst NHL best when it comes to hockey loyalty

Greg Smith February 1, 2013 1
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Now with almost two weeks completed in this the strike shortened NHL season, fans are rushing back to the rink in large numbers.  Despite the lockout, fans still seem to be flocking to the rink.  Much seems to have been forgiven, with very few NHL fans holding any grudges and just glad that the NHL is back.

The NHL says that it’s sorry, but how many teams really are showing their appreciation for their fans these days.  A recent study by MacLean’s magazine judged just how appreciative NHL teams are of their fans, by the value of the discounts that they were offering their fan base.  Of the 30 NHL teams evaluated, five of the 10 most generous hockey franchises were in Canada with the Ottawa Senators (2nd) and Montreal Canadiens (3rd) leading the way.

The study looked at how much teams were willing to put on the line in comparison for their fans relative to players salaries for their opening game.  For example, if every Ottawa Senators fan took advantage of the gimmies, it would cost the team almost three times (283%) what the salaries cost them for that game.  The Senators total cap hit is $54million for the year, or $1.14 million a game.  That means the Senators would’ve given up close to $3million in revenue.

The Montreal Canadiens finished third in the NHL, giving up 259% of the players salaries.  Both the Senators and Canadiens didn’t stop there, with the Senators opening all practices to the public, a move unheard and a gesture that cannot be measured strictly by the numbers.  The Canadiens in turn have along with Ottawa, offered discounts to numerous games, including matches against top clubs.

However Montreal and Ottawa are not alone.  Both Vancouver (5th, 217%) and Calgary (6th, 216%) scored high amongst loyalty to fans, with the Edmonton Oilers rounding out the top 10 (162%).

The only two NHL franchises not to score well were the Winnipeg Jets (17th, 89%) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (19th, 56%).