Ranking fan satisfaction
ESPN recently released their annual study of fan satisfaction in all four major professional sports leagues, and the results from an NHL perspective are quite interesting.
For one, the Buffalo Sabres rank first overall in satisfaction among all 122 franchises, scoring right near the top in fan friendliness, ownership, affordability and on- and off-ice leadership. The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks, meanwhile, rank 117th and 118th overall, ahead of only the Minnesota Vikings, New York Knicks, Oakland Raiders and, ahem, the Detroit Lions.
Other interesting NHL-related notes from the survey?
- The Minnesota Wild ranked first among all pro franchises in stadium experience, which is quite a feat given the competition (they beat out such hallowed homes as the Green Bay Packers' Lambeau Field and Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field).
- The Sabres, Red Wings, Ducks, Predators, Hurricanes and Lightning all score in the top 10 in fan friendliness. The Blackhawks are deservedly in hockey's basement here at 115th.
- Best ownership group? The Red Wings' Mike Ilitch, who placed second overall behind only the San Antonio Spurs' war hero Peter Holt. Chicago, again, is right near the bottom, second last and ahead of only the Florida Marlins.
- Affordability's an interesting one, mainly because the Maple Leafs rank dead last in all of pro sports in the category. It's really hard to overemphasize just how ridiculous it is trying to go to a game at the Air Canada Centre, where the worst lower-bowl tickets in the building cost $200 (and the best ones are more than twice that) for a Tuesday night tilt against the Panthers. Only Buffalo and Nashville place in the top 20 in this category.
- Pittsburgh and the Islanders understandably rank near the basement in terms of stadium experience, given their old buildings, but Chicago's cavernous United Center isn't far behind.
- The Montreal Canadiens are the toughest on their team, ranking its players 97th overall despite the fact they are decidedly middle of the pack (Flyers fans, for instance, rank their last-place club's roster 90th). The most lenient fans are in Washington, where they put their awful roster 43rd overall.
- And, finally, funnily enough, the Carolina Hurricanes finished at the very top of the peak in terms of championship material, which just goes to show that one unexpected title helps a ton in terms of fan expectations. Six teams score 101st or worst here: Florida, Los Angeles, Columbus, Boston, Toronto, Phoenix and Chicago.