Doug Springer's franchise having the worst attendance in all of Canadian major junior hockey in attendance only goes to shows that Kingston has pretty smart hockey fans.
Some would remark on how strange it is that the Kingston Frontenacs are drawing (loosely speaking) an OHL-worst average of 1,951 fans, given Kingston's rich hockey history. However, it shows that it is a hockey town.
People care enough to say "no thanks" to what the owner and GM-for-life Larry Mavety are peddling about a rebuilding effort or doing "whatever it takes" to build a winner. The same is true of a lot of the diehards who still show up to watch a last-place team, since it lets them make their disgust known.
Honestly, it would be more worrisome if Kingston was still averaging 2,500 after a decade-plus of bad hockey under Springer. It would suggest people are content just to have a team and show up out of habit because they can't find anything better to do with their free time, which is really more of a Peterborough thing.
That's the kind of inertia that Springer seems to count on: Just open the doors 34 times a year and expect people will come, through horrid hockey and high water. Come on, Mr. Springer. It's about giving people something value-added and selling smart, which is what you have to do with all the entertainment options people have in 2008, compared to even 10 years ago, let alone 20.
Honestly, it's fair to wonder if we're starting to see the death rattle of the OHL in Kingston. It's going to take an owner who can sell smart to get people to start attending games in Kingston and help fill that 4,500-seat downtown arena they will open in less than three weeks. Doug Springer has not inspired confidence.
There's an urge to support the local team. It's just been rendered dormant, pushed deep down inside by a decade of Springer 'n' Mav. One day people will turn out for the OHL in Kingston again, but as said before, it's hard to see it happening as long as it's the Doug Springer show.
(Much obliged to Marc Foster from Junior Hockey Blog for the link.)