ANAHEIM – The drive up to Honda Center was nearly as easy last season, with freeways open at all times, undoubtedly the only positive development of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown in Southern California. Once the ducks reached their home turf, the experience was even more lonely.
Inside the building at the corner of Catella and Douglas, the Ducks fought hard in front of a sea of empty seats, with fans banned for all but a few late-season games, and with those numbers reaching a total capacity of 17,174. Limited to only 1,174 . Advertising strings covered the seats closest to the snow.
As usual the sound system was filled with hype music and announcements of Phil Hewlett’s public address filled the empty seats. But there were no fans in attendance and it made for a miserable experience for a team that struggled to score goals and win games.
Fake crowd noise filled the quiet moments, but was more distracting than helpful.
There was no energy. As a result, the Ducks ended the season with a record of 17-30-9, including 6-18-4 at home.
This season, with the small but vocal crowd in the building, the Ducks are 13-8-3, including a 9-4-1 at home going into Friday’s game against the Calgary Flames. There is plenty of energy.
Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said the other day, “Last year, a lot of veteran players talked about the struggle they face for games without fans.” “I put my domestic record entirely on my fans. Our fans are incredible. They are loud. I think he has made a really positive impact on our team.
“With that positive impact comes a good domestic record.”
Appearance (Part 2)
Although everything is fine at Honda Center Ice, everything is not so good at the box office. The Ducks averaged only 12,803, or 74.6% of their ability in appearances in their first 14 home dates, ranking 28th in the 32-team NHL. The biggest crowd of 16,260 ducks, about 1,000 shy of a sell-off, was at the beginning of the night.
Attendance was only 11,902 for the Ducks’ 6-5 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday. This season requires proof of full vaccination or negative testing for all fans entering the Honda Center, which some fans have cited as the biggest reason for hesitation to return to the arena.
The Ducks are not alone in struggling to attract fans during the pandemic.
Only six teams in the NHL have 100% of average capacity to start the season, including the expanding Seattle Kraken, who are sold for obvious reasons related to hockey’s return to the city, and the New York Islanders, who are playing in Elmont. , a new area in New York.
Despite winning records for the Ducks, Kings (9-8-4) and San Jose Sharks (12-9-1) in Thursday’s games, the drop in attendance is particularly sharp among California teams. The Kings are ranked 27th with an average of 14,064 (77.1% of capacity) and the Sharks are 29th (12,498, 71.2% of capacity).
In contrast, in 2018-19, the previous season without any impact from COVID-19, the Ducks were ranked 18th in the league in attendance (16,814 or 97.9% capacity on average), the Kings 12th (18,000). Were. 98.7%) and sharks were 14th (17,266, 98.3%).
Calgary in the Duck
When: Friday at 7 pm
where: honda center
TV: Bali Sports West