Poor attendance at the Saddledome should send important message to Flames higher-ups

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
5 months ago
The vibes are tremendously low.
That one sentence is the best way, in my opinion, to describe the kind of chaos that surrounds the Calgary Flames so far in 2023-24. On nights when the team can generate chances, they can’t score. On nights where they can’t generate chances, they give them up at the other end, or a soft goal stops any hint of momentum they might stumble upon along the way. And the worst part? It doesn’t feel like there’s any way around it in the near future. Almost everything is looking bleak outside of a couple of exceptions, and fans are beginning to take notice.
Against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, multiple tweets across my timeline talked about the poor attendance seen in the Saddledome. I only started to follow this team closely last season, but even then, I knew that Flames fans were a very passionate bunch, and it’s truly a challenge to have them not attend games.
The official attendance, as reported by the NHL, was 16,897, which totals to 87.6% and the second-lowest on the night only ahead of the New York Islanders. However, even though that was the reported total of people in attendance at the game, it looked and felt much lower.
And here:
Fans are upset, and rightfully so. The product on the ice hasn’t been nearly as good as expected coming into this new season. A fresh start was what everyone needed, and the words that were spoken over the off-season by some of the big-contract players are not coming to fruition from a team and individual performance standpoint. So, what’s the best way to get across that the product on the ice isn’t good enough, given the kind of statements the front office has made about where they believe they’re trending? Don’t pay money to show up and watch.
Unfortunately, this is a big blow for those hockey-crazed Flames fans out there who love to be involved in the Saddledome atmosphere and be in community with those who share a common interest. But there’s something to be said about a team being bad and the fanbase making it known that these results are unacceptable.
The Flames have been hovering around the 87% mark in terms of “official” attendance. Of course, there were some issues a couple of games ago with some bad weather that might have prevented some people from showing up, but it wasn’t enough to make a solid argument that there’s not a bigger problem here.
The Flames need to figure these issues out both on and off the ice. There isn’t a hint of synchronicity throughout the lineup, and it’s not helping that line combinations have been rather fluid to this point. How can you expect the players to gel when they aren’t given the time to do so? They have had their share of issues, of course, but the coach is also responsible in times like this. Ryan Huska is a new head coach in this league, and maybe it will take him longer to grab the reins, but something else needs to be said about the kind of chances the team is getting (and not finishing on) and what they’re allowing. Plenty of players on the roster are capable of being much better than they have been as of late, and the Flames faithful will continue not to make their presence felt at games if these issues don’t get figured out.

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