The NHL is less than a month into its 2023-24 season, but the league is expecting this to be a monumental year.
After setting a new regular-season attendance record of 22.4 million last season, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the league is “tracking for a record year of attendance” yet again. Through October, season-wide attendance was 1.86 million.
That’s buoyed in part by the evolution of the NHL Stadium Series, which takes professional hockey outdoors to fans at major football and baseball venues across North America. “We’re coming together in numbers you’re not quite used to,” Bettman said on the “Pat McAfee Show.”
In February, back-to-back games at MetLife Stadium will represent the 40th and 41st outdoor NHL games.
Meanwhile, Bettman said that the NHL continues to receive interest about potential expansion teams in Atlanta, Houston, Salt Lake City, and Quebec City, but adding a 33rd team isn’t at the forefront of his thinking just yet. “I’m not ruling it out, but it’s not something we’re focused on or we’re pushing to do right now,” he said.
Bettman hopes that the 2026 Milano-Cortina Olympics will be the first Winter Games to feature NHL players since 2014.
Despite the Olympics not being a moneymaker for the NHL, Bettman knows it’s important to the league’s players to be able to represent their countries. “It’s a logistical nightmare,” he said. “It takes place in the middle of our season. It’s very expensive, but it’s something that we’re working on.”
He did not give a timetable for confirming whether NHL players will be allowed to participate or not.