NHL sets attendance record for January

TORONTO -- Hammered by talk of smaller audiences this season, the NHL said on Thursday the league had set an attendance record for January.

Despite the sight of thousands of empty seats in some arenas, the NHL said 3,193,093 fans attended 187 games in January posting a per-game average of 17,075 -- the highest in the league's 89-year history.

The per-game figure represents 92.3 percent of capacity and is nearly 2 percent higher than the previous January high of 16,795, set during last season's record-setting campaign.

According to the figures, average attendance has increased month by month from 16,537 in October to 16,538 in November and 16,850 in December.