The NHL missed out on nearly $3.6 billion in revenue during the 2020-21 regular season due to limited attendance, according to The Athletic's Sean Shapiro.
The Athletic's estimation, confirmed by league and team executives as in "the right ballpark," was based on reductions in ticket sales and in-arena revenue streams such as concessions, parking, and merchandise.
The league welcomed just over 1 million total fans across the United States this season due to the pandemic. That's a major drop-off from the 18 million (2019-20) and 22 million (2018-19) fans who watched NHL games in person in the previous two seasons.
The seven Canadian teams haven't brought fans back yet, but all American franchises are now operating with limited capacities. The Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, and Arizona Coyotes allowed supporters to attend games for the entire season.
The Vegas Golden Knights lead the league in average attendance at 4,362 people across 17 home games since permitting fans to return to T-Mobile Arena.