New Jersey Devils: Attendance Debate Is Getting Very Old

A fan cheers on the New Jersey Devils in the new alternate jerseys during the game against Minnesota Wild at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports
A fan cheers on the New Jersey Devils in the new alternate jerseys during the game against Minnesota Wild at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports /

New Jersey Devils fans are used to hearing the same insults for years. The Trap killed hockey. Martin Brodeur wasn’t that good; he just had a phenomenal defense. The NHL should move the team. The Stanley Cup parade was in a parking lot. Etc. etc. etc. However, one debate never seems to cease. It seems everyone loves to talk about attendance. Now, nationally respected writers are unfortunately doing the same.

The Athletic wrote about attendance across the league. The article wasn’t necessarily about the Devils, but they were mentioned in the title and the first team they mentioned as “jumping out.” Sure, the Devils do have the third-lowest total attendance in the league. However, the Prudential Center has the third smallest capacity in the league.

Only Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg and Mullett Arena in Arizona have smaller capacities than The Rock. That hasn’t stopped the Devils from bringing the punch every night since it became clear this was a great team.

Their first sellout didn’t come until November 18th against the Detroit Red Wings. The October schedule was much more favorable to the Devils in terms of home games. They had two Saturday games, one Sunday game, and one Friday night game. One problem, the fanbase did not trust this team.

Season tickets were likely down this season after another rough year. Fans wanted to see how it would actually go before committing. After 10 years of landing somewhere between mediocre and downright terrible, fans wouldn’t trust this team. Until now.

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The Devils fans see this team as something different. They are winning games in bunches and find themselves at the top of the league. Here’s the unfortunate thing. Since November 1, the Devils have played two Saturday games at home but no Sunday or Friday games in Newark. So, since there has been an appetite for home games, the Devils have played a majority during the week.

Meanwhile, the Devils have two Friday night home games this month, including this week against the New York Islanders. Add that to the Saturday game against the Florida Panthers on December 17th, and the Devils should see their attendance go up pretty precipitously.

The opponents matter as well. The Devils haven’t played the New York Rangers at home yet. Both of their games against the Philadelphia Flyers were at the Wells Fargo Center. They haven’t faced the Boston Bruins or the Pittsburgh Penguins, two teams with regional fanbases.

Attendance isn’t linear, and acting like it makes no sense. The Devils had a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at home, and the fans were incredibly rowdy. And everyone got mad at them for it. The world can’t have it both ways. Analysts can’t pretend the Devils fans are too rowdy then at the same time elude to the fact they aren’t passionate enough to show up. Maybe that’s not what the article is saying. Maybe it is an issue across the league, but it seems more like timing. The Devils will never be at the top of the league in attendance. If they sold every seat, they’d still be in the bottom half of the league in attendance.

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Let’s ignore the haters and show the passion of Devils fans. Attendance or not, the Devils fans deserve this season.