Except he and Kovy are rarely marketed. If I'm a casual sports fan in this state or area I barely know who these guys are but a casual sports fan in Maryland or northern Virgina knows who Alex Ovechkin is, maybe even Backstrom and Semin. That's the difference and a problem with the Devils. They don't promote their star players or their team well enough. What happened to the posters at the NJTransit stations or on buses? Billboards?
As for the Blackhawks they have frontrunners(which help fill the seats), but not just because they were Cup contenders. Don't underestimate how much damage Bill Wirtz did to that club and fanbase. They barely missed the playoffs in 2008 but attendance still jumped from 29th in 07 to 19th in 08 to 1st overall in 09.
When you can only get 15,000 to a late season game against the Flyers when you're in the middle of a playoff race on a Sunday with no rain or snow, something is seriously wrong.
This is a problem that has gone on since the Devils moved here. McMullen and Lou have always had the impression that if they promoted their players, they would then become stars and demand big money. They admitted it someplace in an interview long ago. However, they would like for you to believe they do this as a way to put team above player which is total BS.
Look at the player polls that come out every year when they ask "Which team would you like to play for if you had the chance?" Usually it is successful or traditional teams that are ranked high but not the Devils. The Devils are almost certainly never in the top 5 or even top 10.