Vancouver Canucks ticket sales stay strong so far, despite struggling team and uncertain future

Will the franchise suffer at the box office as the season goes on?

Canucks ticket sales

Credit: Vancouver Canucks on Twitter

Will the franchise suffer at the box office as the season goes on? 

If you’re an ardent fan of the Vancouver Canucks, you may be surprised to learn that, despite some porous on-ice results, the franchise is doing quite well at the box office this year.

As the Canucks turned the calendar into 2023 with a 6-2 home loss at the hands of the New York islanders, you’d be forgiven for assuming that things are quite bleak for the club. And on the ice, that’s probably true. The Canucks own a 16-18-3 record. They are seven points back of the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference, with three other teams ahead of them in that race. They have four more points than the Arizona Coyotes, who have made it a goal to tank for the right to draft North Vancouver phenom Connor Bedard. All this in a season that the team’s head coach said “would be a big disaster” if the Canucks didn’t make the playoffs.  

Oh, and Bo Horvat, the team’s captain, is on an absurd goal-scoring pace and ready to demand a huge raise on his next contract that’s looking more and more likely to be signed by a different team.

But all of that—plus a 5-7-1 record at home, including some particularly disheartening recent losses against the Blues, Jets and Wild—hasn’t stopped fans from stopping by Rogers Arena. So far this year, the team has seen a marked improvement in average attendance from last season, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise given the COVID restrictions that were in place for parts of that year.  

What is a bit of a surprise, however, is that the team’s attendance numbers are overall quite strong, with an average capacity percentage of 98.5. According to Hockey Reference, none of the team’s home games have been below 18,000 in attendance. (Rogers Arena’s capacity for hockey games is listed at 18,630.)  

It’s not like ticket prices have gotten much cheaper, either. The average price is still hovering around $145, according to a recently released sponsored article. Sure, you might say that the appetite in Vancouver for professional hockey is massive enough to support any iteration of this team. But other than the pandemic-shortened year in which the Canucks actually made the playoffs (well, kinda, given the way the rules were manipulated), this is the strongest season in terms of attendance for the team since 2014-15.

Canucks ticket salesHockey DB

You have to wonder whether the Canucks can possibly keep this going or if the team is destined to start hawking off tickets as cheap as possible the second Horvat gets traded to a contender. The team has hinged on the play of Horvat and Elias Pettersson, and if Horvat actually is moved, it’ll mean a lot less fun at Rogers Arena on a nightly basis.  

After all, he has 28 goals in 37 games. Among the NHL’s goal scoring leaders, he’s tied with Alex Ovechkin and only behind Connor McDavid and the otherworldly sensation that is Tage Thompson of the Buffalo Sabres. It has been more than a decade since a Canuck scored 35 or more goals in a full season. Horvat is seven away from that in less than half a campaign.  

Of course, that may explain the extreme reluctance this ownership group has shown in undertaking a badly needed rebuild. Instead of trading J.T. Miller at his highest value point last year, the team re-signed him to a massive deal. Now the Canucks face the prospect of losing Horvat or finally burning it all to the ground and starting over.  

But will ownership allow the box office to take another hit? In a year when the team is seeing good results at the gates even with underwhelming on-ice play, we wouldn’t bet on it.