Butts in Seats, Game 7, Selke to Barkov, Brind’Amour, Sullivan, DeBoer, and other Blackhawks Bullets

First, an interesting story from my guy Ben Pope at the Chicago Sun-Times that looks at the Blackhawks’ attendance this past season and what’s in store for next year. To Ben’s credit, he jumped all over following the trends within the ticket sales and attendance numbers right out of the gate last year and stayed on it, with a lot of really good information since the draft lottery last summer.

In his latest, Pope tells us the Blackhawks are at a 96 percent renewal rate on season ticket memberships and they saw significant increases in attendance in almost every metric you can slice out of the ridiculous amount of data the Blackhawks collect. A couple other interesting nuggets from this story:

  • 110,000 people attended their first Blackhawks game at the United Center this past season
  • The Blackhawks “averaged 19,196 fans at weekend games, up from 18,257 the year before (a 5.1% increase). Meanwhile, they averaged 18,272 at weekday games, up from 16,226 the year before (a 12.6% increase).”
  • We’re getting another Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year. The Edmonton Oilers beat the Vancouver Canucks pretty soundly last night to force a deciding game on Monday night. It will be the first Game 7 between two Canadian teams since Montreal defeated Toronto in the first round in 2021 — and the first time two Canadian teams played for a berth in a conference final since Ottawa faced Toronto in 2002. Those are fun little stats. But this one was more wild to me, especially in a world where so many professional playoffs seem like they’re chalk from the jump.
  • Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers ran away with the Selke Trophy this year — as he should have. I had him No. 1 on my ballot this year, making me one of 165 members of the PHWA to have Barkov first.
  • Blackhawks center Jason Dickinson placed 12th in the voting, receiving one second place vote and appearing on 18 ballots overall.
  • Kevin Weekes loves making videos from strange, random places when he breaks news. Last night he was high above the ice when he tweeted a report that has since been corroborated by a number of other insiders: the Carolina Hurricanes are keeping head coach Rod Brind’Amour with a multi-year extension. Carolina is headed into a potentially painful summer with a big portion of their roster headed to free agency and many of them not likely to return. But a change behind the bench may have been catastrophic. Good on the Canes for getting this done.
  • Another piece of coaching news: Penguins bench boss Mike Sullivan has been named the head coach for USA Hockey in the 4 Nations Face-Off and the 2026 Winter Olympics. My biggest question is: does he still have the job in Pittsburgh by then?
  • One last coaching note from elsewhere in the NHL: Pete DeBoer has done a nice job of succeeding just enough to… lose his job and go be good again somewhere else… this is indeed a wild reality we’re living in.
  • We’ve got a round of new 30 for 30s coming from ESPN, and a trailer dropped for one on the 1994 New York Rangers last night. Yeah, I’m excited for this one. No, I’m not a Rangers fan. But Steve Larmer was on that team and I’m ride-or-die with 28 so I’m all in for this one. But that was also the end of a long championship drought and a moment that some hockey-loving Cubs fans saw as hope that maybe, some day, a World Series might happen.
  • The NHL released the full Conference Final schedule for both conferences on Saturday night after learning there would be a Game 7 between Vancouver and Edmonton.
  • Finally, there might not be a hotter baseball player on the planet than Brennen Davis right now. It seems like every time he thinks about swinging the ball leaves the building right now.
  • written by

    Tab Bamford has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks for almost two decades. He joined Bleacher Nation as the lead Blackhawks writer in May 2022. Tab is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and is the author of two books about the Blackhawks: "100 Things Blackhawks Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" (Triumph Books) and "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter/X/Instagram/Threads at @The1Tab

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