There are 32 American teams in the National Football League, but only eight in the Canadian Football League. There are 29 American teams in the National Basketball Association and only one Canadian team. In Major League Soccer, three teams in Canada are outnumbered by 16 teams in the USA. 29 American teams play in Major League Baseball with again, only one team in Canada. Finally, in the National Hockey League, 23 American teams outnumber seven Canadian teams.
That makes for a total of 20 Canadian teams, compared to a massive 129 American teams in North America’s five biggest sports leagues. Yet, I’m willing to argue that Canadian fans are just as fanatic about their favorite (or is it favourite?) teams as American fans. Also, with less teams to cheer for, the fan number for a certain team could challenge almost any American team’s fan base.
That leads me to the subject of this article. Which teams in Canadian sports are the most popular? Are the most popular teams from the NHL, hockey being one of Canada’s national sports. What about teams from the CFL? I know some diehard fans that are very proud of that league. How about the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Raptors? They are two teams that serve as the only Canadian team in each of those leagues, respectively, leaving them the whole country to have as fans.
From 20 to No. 1, here are the most popular Canadian sports teams. I should warn soccer fans though, you won’t like the first slide.
Soccer might be the world’s most popular sport, but in Canada it doesn’t translate to MLS teams being popular. Toronto FC has done nothing but continue to be the worst team under the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment banner and the Impact and the Whitecaps are still too new to be hugely popular in Canada.
Plus, being so multicultural, most Canadians end up cheering for other countries in international competitions such as the World Cup. That doesn’t bode well for teams in Canada to be popular.
Since last winning the Grey Cup in 2004, the Toronto Argonauts have struggled to maintain competitiveness, and have been losing fans as a result. With the 100th Grey Cup taking place in Toronto, the Argo’s have been on a mission to get back to the Grey Cup, win back their fans and become popular again.
While the Hamilton Ti-Cats have usually maintained their competitiveness, the team has been dragged down the past couple of years by the 2015 Pan-Am games stadium controversy.
With their home, Ivor Wynne Stadium, set to be demolished and rebuilt after this season, fans of the Ti-Cats will most likely have to pack a smaller stadium or just stay home and watch them on television to catch their favorite team in action.
Although they're the only Canadian team in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors are not nationally supported for because they have not been able to make the playoffs since 2008. A team that seems to go nowhere each year isn’t very popular in the minds of fans. Yet, at the beginning of each year, the Raptors seem to give their fans enough hope to watch for another season.
The lowest-ranked NHL team, the Ottawa Senators have been going through some troubles as of late, although last year they were a surprising playoff team. Led by Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza, the Sens are a team full of youngsters who just graduated from the AHL.
That is appealing to a lot of people, but not enough to be higher on this list.
I would consider the Edmonton Eskimos the Toronto Raptors of the CFL. A team that seems to make strides every year to being a contender, but they never seem to be that successful. Last season, they started off excellently, but ultimately fell short of the Grey Cup finals.
Once again, provincial rivals in the CFL rank right next to each other. The Calgary Stampeders seem like they are a Grey Cup contender every year, so they rank higher than the Eskimos.
The Calgary Flames are mostly popular because of their history, but in recent years, they have been more popular for doing the strangest things done in the NHL. Whether it’s bringing back players they had let go years earlier, or refusing to commit to a rebuilding phase that should obviously happen, the Flames are an oddity.
The top 10 begins with the powerhouse of the CFL for the past decade or so, the Montreal Alouettes. Making eight Grey Cup Final appearances in the 2000’s and winning three, the Alouettes have been the boon to the other CFL teams. They are just now starting to show signs of weakness, but that is not dampening their popularity.
Wayne Gretzky. Mark Messier. Jari Kurri. Ryan Smyth. Taylor Hall. Jordan Eberle. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The heroes of yesteryear and the hope for the future of one of the most iconic teams in NHL history, the Edmonton Oilers are on their way to becoming a lot more competitive. When they do, they could move up this list substantially.
Stuck in the toughest division in the MLB, the Toronto Blue Jays have found a way to remain relevant by playing an entertaining brand of baseball. They also have one of the best home run hitters in the game in Jose Batista. Now all they need to do is put together a contending team, and they will be even more popular.
Being the defending Grey Cup champions definitely boosts your popularity. Led by one of the most beloved coaches of all time in Wally Buono up until the end of last season, the B.C. Lions look like they are taking the Montreal Alouettes' place as the dominant team in the CFL.
The most successful Canadian NHL team of the past few years, the Vancouver Canucks have been trying to find a way to take that last step to win the Stanley Cup. The Sedin twins are two of the premier forwards in the game and they have a great supporting cast in Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows among others.
Last year, everyone watching the CFL knew about “Swaggerville”. While the “Swagger” might have drained a little since the beginning of the season, but that surprising run to the Grey Cup finals last year should keep the Blue Bombers popular for quite some time.
The Winnipeg Jets will be running on the popularity generated by the team’s return to Manitoba for at least a couple more seasons. Backed by one of the more passionate fan bases in the NHL, the Jets can pretty much do anything for the next few seasons and they will have the fan’s support.
It is well known in Canada that the Saskatchewan Roughriders have the most passionate fan base in the CFL. You can tell just by watching on television that they are some of the loudest fans in all of sports. Also, some of the craziest fans reside there too.
The most historically successful team in the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens have some of the greatest fans in the game. That being said, they lose some marks from me because of their tendency to react the same to winning or losing in the playoffs.
Love them or hate them, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the most popular Canadian sports team. Ask any Canadian to name a Canadian sports team outside of their own city or province and they will more than likely say the Toronto Maple Leafs. No matter how much they, for the lack of a better word, suck in any given year, they will always be the most popular of all the Canadian sports teams.