Attendance down in Los Angeles, Chicago

Updated: October 20, 2006, 12:05 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Colorado Avalanche played before empty seats at home for the first time in nearly 11 years on Tuesday.

Last week, the Los Angeles Kings had their lowest attendance in five years. The Chicago Blackhawks had 8,008 fans in 20,500-seat United Center the same night.

Is hockey attendance in trouble? Commissioner Gary Bettman says it's too early to hit the panic button.

"It's a couple weeks into the season and any speculation would be premature," Bettman was quoted as saying in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times.

Bettman, the Times said, blamed the "schedule being a little different. It's a little premature two to three weeks into the season to be writing attendance stories."

According to the Times, the Kings have eight home games in October, compared to nine in 2005. Last year, they had one crowd of less than 17,000 during that span; this year, they've had only one capacity crowd.

Attendance in Colorado on Monday was 17,681 in the Pepsi Center -- 326 short of capacity. Previously, Colorado had played to 487 consecutive full houses.

Thus far this season, 14 teams are playing to capacity houses nightly -- Montreal, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Philadelphia, Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, Carolina, Buffalo, Vancouver, Dallas, Minnesota, the New York Rangers and San Jose.

Chicago, meanwhile, is playing to just 61 percent of capacity at the United Center. A year ago, the Blackhawks played to 65 percent of capacity for 41 home games, lowest in the NHL.