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Vulgar Statistics: An Introduction to “The Ruiner”


An Introduction to “The Ruiner”

At times in this column, I will be referencing an excel file known simply as “The Ruiner.” It is named as such, because that’s how I use it in regards to opposing arguments, and it lives up to its name quite nicely. This particular article will be an overview as to what exactly that excel file contains.

Tab 1:
The first tab is a compilation of attendance data for every NHL franchise since the 89-90 season. The data for the seasons from 2000-2001 to present was compiled using’s attendance tab. The remainder of which was compiled using this website (even if he is a dirty Stars fan). An example year in that first tab might look like this:


Tab 2:

Tab 2 is merely a modified version of that data so that teams can be judged against one another in terms of where they ranked within the league in a given year, independent of the number of franchises active in that year.  Allow me to explain.  Obviously simply ranking the franchises is not an adequate way to judge them because in some years there are 21, 22, 26 teams, and now there are obviously 30.  Plus, some teams have not been active since the 89-90 season, so a summation of their rankings is incomparable to someone like Buffalo, who has been active that long.

So what I did is I turned that teams ranking in a given year into a percentile.  If a team was ranked first in attendance, they were the 100th percentile (1.00).  If they were last they were the zeroth percentile.  This made it possible to rank teams against one another (by taking an average percentile) regardless of number of teams in the league, or years played for a given team.


Tab 3:

Tab 3 is the granddaddy.  The entire excel file could just be about Tab 3 and it would be no less impressive.  Somewhere in the previous section, you probably said “wow, this is a stupid and needlessly complicated way to rank teams against each other in terms of attendance.”  And, unless you want to parade out a stat like “Team X has never been in the top 20 in the league in attendance,” you are correct.

Tab 3 is the best way to compare teams against one another.  It features the total regular season attendance for each team, each year, 89-90 to present.  Then it features the total number of seats available for that team in that time span, including arena upgrades, and new buildings.  Then it uses this crazy thing called math to figure out what total percentage of available seats each team has sold in their operation since 89-90, since the lockout, and for funsies, in this decade.  It is enormous, and unfortunately I can’t display an image and have it be readable.

SPOILER ALERT:  Smallest percentage of seats sold?  Carolina Hurricanes.  Read my fingers Raleigh.  Yes, the Canes sold a smaller percentage of seats from 97-98 to present than the Whalers sold from 89-90 to 96-97.  Ouch.

Tab 4:

Ah, but what use is it comparing attendance figures without a bit of background info?  I bring you Tab 4!  Tab 4 has a few numbers that start to paint the picture of just how well a given market should be doing.  This includes charts for each team for Arena Size, Market Size (Metro Pop.), Percentage of Metro Population it takes to fill the Arena, Median Household Income (Metro), Poverty Rate (Metro), and Nielsen Ratings within the Local Market (Not available for Canadian Markets).  And yes, monetary values were converted as necessary.

I took the Median Household Income, Poverty Rate, and Arena Percentage of Pop. values, ranked each team, and compiled a summation to figure out which markets were the most difficult to sell out.


Tab 5:

Tab five is a compilation of ticket prices.  I haven’t finished it yet because I only recently found a good compilation of ticket prices for the entire league here.  I also don’t trust it.  I believe it is merely an average of all ticket prices for an average game (say silver for the Sabres), and doesn’t take into account tiered pricing for different value games and the number of seats in each price range.  Any idiot can look at it and tell you with the amount of giveaways and $12 seats, there’s no way in hell the average ticket price in Phoenix is higher than in Buffalo.

Tab 6:

Tab 6 is a chart I put together while bored at work one day.  It simply ranks the American Markets in terms of attendance in the past year, Market size, TV Ratings in the past year, and my personal ranking of that fanbase.  It then sums and sorts them giving an overall ranking of the American NHL fanbases.


Tab 7:

Tab 7 is a list of every Sabres home game in the 09-10 season and the attendance for those games in an attempt to see which games sold out and if there was a pattern.  There really wasn’t, except that the Sabres sold out their final 22 games of the season.  Yay!

Tab 8:

I did the same thing as Tab 7 for the Coyotes to annihilate the point some moron on Sabres Junkie was making.

Tab 9:

And finally, Tab 9.  Tab 9 is a list of the arena size for each team in each year (to assist the total attendance tab).  Again, it is huge, and I will not link an image.

If you made it this far, kudos to you since I actually fell asleep halfway through writing this, and through an amazing stroke of random luck, and helpful cats, managed to finish the column completely unconscious.  If you would like a copy of the excel file to modify as you see fit, simple e-mail me at, or get in touch with me on my blog.  And remember, I made it first.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 08/15/10 9:29 PM

    What an amazing amount of data! I would like a copy if that’s alright, email to, I love excel sheets, especially ones as magnificent as this.

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