After the Leon Draisaitl fireworks a couple of weeks ago it has been a typical quiet late August on the NHL news front. However, after I received The Hockey News 2017-2018 Yearbook last week and reading the Bruins team preview it sparked a few things that I find interesting during hockey’s dead season. So without further adieu here are some our BostonPucks.com late summer thoughts:
- One of the sad things that caught my eye in The Hockey News Yearbook was that the Bruins finished 18th in attendance in the NHL last year. Yes, eighteenth. How the hell are the Bruins 18th in the league in attendance? This was surprising to me. The TD Garden has a max capacity of 17,565. The Bruins’ average attendance was 17,565. So the Bruins sold out every game (?) but are 18th in attendance. I’m not sure if the numbers factor in actual tickets sold, like the fake Fenway sellout streak, or real physical clicks at the entrance turnstiles. I do know the TD Garden is coming up on 22 years old and it is on the small end of arenas in the NHL. That significantly contributes to why the Bruins are 18th in attendance. When I sat in the balcony a couple of times last season it really wasn’t a great experience. The angle the balcony goes up and away, not allowing for great sight lines. It needs to be steeper. Have you ever been in the balcony at the Bell Centre? You practically need a ladder to get to your seat. But there isn’t a bad seat in the house. I find at the Garden you I need to sit closer to the edge of your balcony seat to be able to see the ice over the people in front of you. I know the Jacobs family has put some money into the arena to renovate the loge concourse and other parts of the building, but it might be time to find a way to get a new arena. It’s already a dinosaur. When you look at Chicago they can be at over 2,000 over capacity due to a standing room. Chicago is first in attendance in the league averaging 21,752. Of course they do have a superior product on the ice, they still have the accommodations to average over 4,000 more people per game. That is huge. Especially when Chicago’s average ticket price is a whopping $297.27. That is over $1.1 million more revenue Chicago makes per home game than the Bruins can, before concessions, etc.
- After looking at the Bruins schedule it occurred to me that they have the potential to get off to a fast start. Their first seven games are against Nashville, Colorado, @ Colorado, @ Arizona, @ Vegas, Vancouver, and Buffalo. Outside of Nashville on opening night the Bruins are, on paper, better than 5 of the other teams they play in the first 7 games. As we saw with the Canadiens last season when they started the season 13-1-1. The hot start, nearly 1/5 of their season, carried them to a playoff spot as they played average hockey the rest of the way. That eventually got Michel Therein canned, which got Claude Julien paid. With the Bruins schedule in October they could get off to a hot start that will build confidence and set a nice tone.
- This is only my opinion, but the whole David Pastrnak signing situation is hard to solely blame Don Sweeney for it dragging along. I personally point towards Mr. NHL and Concession Hall of Fame, Jeremy Jacobs, for not being willing to agree to allow Sweeney to sign Pastrnak to a signing bonus heavy contract, i.e. lockout proof deal. You would have to assume that Don Sweeney wants to keep his job and signing Pastrnak will help him do that while making total hockey sense. So what is taking so long? The Bruins have plenty of cap space to fit Pastrnak in. They had no problem in paying win-now money to Matt Beleskey and David Backes, guys on the outside, but can’t pony up for one of their own bred pieces to win-now and even beyond? This reeks of Jacob’s. You also have to remember that Jacobs is the head of the NHL’s Board of Directors and lives for this kind of situation. Regardless of how many years the contract is 6 or 7 $6 million per year is not going to get it done, and the Bruins need to get it done before it gets messy.
- Bruins Fan Fest was yesterday in Burlington, VT. I was not able to attend, but my kids went and had a great time. My youngest child had to be fitted for equipment for the Bruins Academy. Frank Vatrano was the only player in attendance, but it was a fantastic event. My oldest son picked up a David Pastrnak shirt, so you can almost guarantee he will be traded now.
That is all I got for now. Have a great rest of your summers Bruins fans. Training camp is right around the corner.
Follow us on Twitter @BostonPucks and let’s talk hockey.