[Image via Reddit]
Having been born and raised a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, I’ve grown accustomed to disappointment. The Game 7 loss to the Bruins a year and a half ago is still a sore spot, and likely will be for quite some time. But then again, it has been nearly 50 years since they last hoisted hockey’s holy grail. There’s bound to be some frustration festering in the hearts of fans
I’ve often heard it said that Leafs fans are either the most loyal fans in hockey, or the stupidest.
If this new ESPN poll is any indication, it’s not stupidity. Fans are aware that their team hasn’t met their expectations for quite some time. Either that, or no Leafs fans were included in the poll. Here’s what it said, as reported by Yahoo! Sports:
According to a new ESPN The Magazine ultimate franchise ranking, which mixes in fan polling with other research, the Leafs rated the lowest among 122 teams from the NHL, NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball.
Wow, not a single team from any of the big 4 North American sports leagues ranks lower than the Leafs. So what are the criteria the ranking is based on?
The annual survey put the Leafs at or near the bottom in almost every one of the eight categories that make up the ranking. On affordability — which factored in the price of tickets, concessions and parking — the Leafs ranked 122nd. On bang for the buck , which factored victories and fan expenditures, they finished — you guessed it — 122nd.
On championships won or expected within fans’ lifespans, they finished 121st, with only the Minnesota Timberwolves supplying a more dismal past, present and future. On players’ game effort and likeability, they ranked 120th. On fan relations, the Leafs stood 117th. On the strengh of the team’s coaching, 113th.
The Leafs’ crowning accomplishment in the survey was in the area of ownership’s honesty and loyalty to core players and local community. There, the team finished behind only 104 other teams. On the other hand, the teams they ranked ahead of included pariah Donald Sterling’s old team, the L.A. Clippers, and the perennially dysfunctional Miami Marlins.
Wow, there’s a team who fared worse than the Leafs in the “championships won or expected within fans’ lifespans” category. Makes me feel pretty awful for Timberwolves fans. Then again, they Minnesotans, so I would imagine the “Minnesota nice” attitude plays a role in their continued support of the team. Just look how they reacted when Kevin Love got traded:
This isn’t a new thing for the Leafs, however…
The Leaf brass likely won’t be shocked by this low opinion of its product. The franchise finished last in 2012 and rose to the lofty heights of 119th place last year.
Canadian franchises in general did not fare all that well. The highest-ranked franchise from the Great White North was the Montreal Canadiens, who placed 55th.
Also coming up short in the rankings were the Toronto Raptors (74), Toronto Blue Jays (81) Calgary Flames (89), Ottawa Senators (92), Vancouver Canucks (112) and Edmonton Oilers (115.)
The rankings are based on a survey of 1,002 North American sports fans on what they want most in return for the emotion, money and time they invest in their favourite teams. In addition, more than 100,000 fans were asked to rate their home teams in each area.
ESPN then used research from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center to determine how well, or badly, teams turn fans’ money into victories.
In case you’re wondering who finished first…
The San Antonio Spurs were ranked first overall, with the Anaheim Ducks second. Four NHL teams — the Ducks, L.A. Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks — finished in the top 10.
So while they’re not expected to bring home more championships anytime soon, at least we can depend on the Leafs to be entertaining on the ice… Even if it involves Dion Phaneuf taking out his own teammates.
[Via The Score]
[Via The Nosebleeds]