Dec 19, 2013, 3:05 PM EDT
The Phoenix Coyotes are dead last in NHL attendance. On Saturday, an announced crowd of just 11,697 showed up to Jobing.com Arena to watch the home team lose, 3-1, to Carolina.
But despite what may seem like a still-dire situation in the desert, Coyotes president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc is seeing signs of progress.
“Our next home game on December 27 against San Jose is going to be a sellout,” LeBlanc said yesterday on Arizona Sports 620 radio (audio). “So, the fact that we’re finally starting to sell out against some of these rivals in California — that’s a good sign. “
He added: “From a paid attendance perspective, we’re up somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 percent year over year; sponsorships we can’t even compare to the previous years — things are going so well for us.”
According to LeBlanc — who admits things could still be better and wouldn’t use the word “happy” to describe how he’s feeling about the business — making the playoffs will be “incredibly important” for the Coyotes in terms of helping the new ownership group in their turnaround plans.
Unfortunately, a postseason berth is far from guaranteed at this point.
Bottom 10 in NHL attendance:
Note: Winnipeg’s capacity is 15,004.
- Captain no more: Sharks strip Thornton of ‘C’ 28
- Tank defense: NHL changes up Draft Lottery format 41
- Fanspeak: Clarke voted greatest Flyer in franchise history 29
- Different tune: Moore hasn’t settled with Bertuzzi, says brother 26
- Rangers win Kevin Hayes sweepstakes 25
- It’s Philadelphia Flyers Day at PHT 59
- Kovalev compares Subban to Leetch, says he isn’t worth the money 49
- Under pressure: Rick Nash 9
- Wang sells Isles to ex-Caps owner Ledecky 41
- Report: MLSE CEO Leiweke to step down (Update: Leiweke denies move) 6