|Posted by roamingtherinks on July 23, 2011 at 10:15 PM|
It is old news by now, but most of you have probably already heard that the powers that be in Devils land have pulled the plug on their ECHL affiliate in Trenton. At Roaming the Rinks we are fortunate enough to see a wide variety of hockey played in lots of different markets, in various leagues. There are loads of successful organizations who do things right and keep fans interested. There are also those teams that once you leave the arena, you figure the team may be on borrowed time due to its limited fan support. RTR has seen a lot of weak, unentertaining, lackluster organizational performances, but 2 that come to mind are the Lowell Devils, and sure enough, the Trenton Devils.
That's not to say the players were not hustling and giving it their all, but after my visit to both arenas in 2009 I came away with 2 distinct similarities: A severe lack of attendance and fan interest, and an overwhelming feeling that the red, black and white Devils logo was being shoved down the fans' throat. Its as if the Devils came into an area and simply hung their name over the door where the once loyal fans of the prior teams would enter and said "you now have a team owned by an NHL club and you will like it" and no further effort was done to attract, or even keep, people in the seats. Although the Lowell Lock Monsters were never near the top of the AHL attendance board, they did develop a bit of a following. The trouble was that one of the few things more boring than the trap is the way the Devils handled their minor league affiliates which they themselves owned.
Trenton, although having an arena located in an area where most folks don't want to hang around just for the fun of it, supported the ECHL's Titans with a loyal fanbase and had good attendance and successful teams. Enter the Devils organization and you have a recipe for a mass fan exodus away from Sovereign Bank arena (or whatever you want to call it these days). Some blame it on having Devils red in an area only 45 minutes from the Flyers home. It seems to me it was apathy of the Devils organization which drove away the fans by putting a weak product on the ice, and didn't give the fans a reason to spend their hard earned bucks on the team anymore. The photos above show empty barns in both cities, and frankly that is a shame. This post is not meant to attack the fans of these 2 cities, but when I was looking back through our photo archive it became painfully obvious that the empty seats made these moves unavoidable, and both Lowell and Trenton were operated in nearly identical fashion despite having excellent buildings for hockey. Hopefully Trenton gets another team, and it is a shame for the fans of Lowell and Trenton that they now no longer have a team to root for. With the Albany Devils last in the AHL standings and attendance column last season could this be another doomed Devils project? We'll find out, but unfortunately the well has been poisoned by the Devils twice already.