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NHL Power Rankings: How Ticked Is Each Team's Fanbase at the Lockout?

Tom SchreierCorrespondent IOctober 9, 2016

NHL Power Rankings: How Ticked Is Each Team's Fanbase at the Lockout?

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    Every hockey fan is upset that the NHL remains locked out.

    The die-hard puckheads will probably stick it out with their team because they love the sport, even if the league management drives them nuts. It is the casual fan, however, that will become indifferent and unlikely to return.

    This slideshow was made with the understanding that there are hockey fans everywhere—from Florida to British Columbia, San Jose to New York—that are absolutely dying without NHL hockey right now. However, some places are angrier than others.

    Each team’s Level of Concern is rated from 1 to 5 with 1 being “indifferent” and 5 being “mad as hell.”

    The team’s fixture in the city and alternative sports and entertainment were taken into account in the making of this slideshow.

Anaheim Ducks

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    Level of Concern: 1

    This is a market that will really hurt the NHL. Anaheim is a very populous area where interest in hockey was galvanized when the then-Mighty Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007.

    The Ducks have fallen on hard times since then but still had plenty of talent on their roster.

    The Angels have signed C.J. Wilson, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in back-to-back offseasons and have a bonafide superstar in Mike Trout. On top of that, Anaheim is home to many beaches, Disney World and myriad other distractions.

    It’s going to be hard to get this city interested in hockey again.

Boston Bruins

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    Level of Concern: 5

    Boston lives and breathes hockey and just recently witnessed their beloved Bruins win a Cup in 2011.

    Even though Boston University and Boston College have strong hockey programs with incredible followings, there’s nothing quite like the NHL for hockey aficionados in Beantown.

Buffalo Sabres

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    Level of Concern: 5

    With the Bills falling on hard times, the Sabres dominated the sports scene in Western New York. Before the lockout, the Sabres looked like a team that could make the playoffs if they were able to shake off last year’s disappointing season.

    With lockout lingering, however, people out there have to wonder if this team was able to recover from last year’s fiasco.

Calgary Flames

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    Level of Concern: 5

    Calgary is filled with people who really believed their aging team had a playoff run or two left in it. The Flames are the only show in town and are dearly missed right now.

Carolina Hurricanes

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    Level of Concern: 3

    Despite winning a Stanley Cup in 2006 after that, you know, other lockout, the Hurricanes were slowly fading away from people’s interest in the Carolinas.

    This team has locked down a couple key pieces—Jeff Skinner, Tim Gleason, etc.—and, by obtaining Jordan Staal in a blockbuster move this summer, was once again on the map in the Triangle Area.

    All those efforts could be for naught, however, if the NHL endures a full-season lockout this year.

Chicago Blackhawks

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    Level of Concern: 4

    Once a lame-duck franchise in Chi-town, the Hawks got a lot of lovin’ when they won it all in 2010. This team was ready to contend next season and clearly was on the map in the Windy City.

    By not playing games, however, the Blackhawks have taken a backseat to the Bears, who are in position to make the playoffs, and the Bulls, who became a fixture in the city during the Jordan years and should be a strong team in the East if Derrick Rose can play at 100 percent this year.

    In no way have the Hawks backtracked to where they were in the Bill Wirtz era, but they are certainly not the only show in town.

Colorado Avalanche

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    Level of Concern: 3

    At the turn of the century, the Avalanche were winning championships and selling out every game, but times have changed.

    The Avs have fallen off the map in Denver, a Broncos town. They may have been on their way back, but this lockout certainly has hampered the team’s efforts to make hockey games a can’t-miss attraction in the Mile High City.

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Level of Concern: 1

    I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but the Blue Jackets share the city of Columbus with this massive institution called The Ohio State University, and believe it or not, Buckeye basketball and football are awful popular out there.

    This franchise has had minimal success since their inception in 2000 and hardly moved the needle to begin with in Columbus.

    The Buckeye hockey program might be more popular right now, to be honest with you.

Dallas Stars

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    Level of Concern: 3

    Like the Avalanche, the Stars used to be a hot ticket in a football city at the turn of the century. However, a lack of winning and bankrupt management has resulted in indifference to the team.

    Dallas is first and foremost a Cowboys town, and with the recent success of the Rangers and Mavericks, the Stars have fallen off the map.

    This team was close to breaking the playoff seal last year, which would have rejuvenated interest in the team, but it won’t be able to capitalize off that success if there’s no hockey this season.

Detroit Red Wings

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    Level of Concern: 5

    The Detroit Red Wings were supposed to host the Winter Classic in Hockeytown this year. Now, that won’t happen.

    The current lockout has had a significant economic and emotional toll in Motown.

Edmonton Oilers

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    Level of Concern: 5

    The Edmonton Oilers are long-removed from their glory days during the Gretzky era and play in a dilapidated venue, but Oil are still a fixture in the River City.

    They are the only show in a hockey-mad city.

Florida Panthers

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    Level of Concern: 1

    The Cats are coming off of a division championship and a damn good series against the defending Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils.

    Having said that, the Panthers were never really a fixture in Southern Florida, and the Miami market is not a great professional sports market to begin with.

Los Angeles Kings

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    Level of Concern: 1

    The Los Angeles Kings pulled off a disappearing act that could only happen in Hollywood.

    A year after winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, the Kings may be suffering the worst championship hangover in NHL history because they are not allowed to play games.

    Since this city threw the Kings a parade, the Clippers became a contender, the Lakers have more drama than a reality show, UCLA in the middle of their season, the Angels signed multiple superstar players, and the Dodgers are spending money like there’s no tomorrow (wait, do they know something?).

    And that’s just the sports scene.

    This city offers entertainment, sunny beaches and plenty of other shiny things to distract a population with the attention span of a toddler.

    Needless to say, the average person in L.A. could care less if hockey is played this year.

Minnesota Wild

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    Level of Concern: 5

    There was a lot of anticipation for the upcoming season in Minnesota following the signing of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

    That all won’t matter, however, if the people in the Land of 10,000 Lakes never get to see them play in a Wild uniform this season.

Montreal Canadiens

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    Level of Concern: 5

    After the Expos departed for Washington, DC in 2004, the Canadiens have become the only professional sports team in the hockey hotbed of Montreal.

    The French have a phrase for people that take away their beloved game. Translated to English, it sounds an awful lot like vacuum.

Nashville Predators

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    Level of Concern: 3

    Nashville will always be known for its music scene—and perhaps their beautiful, yet dramatic women (see: Swift, Taylor)—but the Predators have captured the heart of the sports fan out there.

    With a crappy football team and no professional baseball or basketball in the city, as the Grizzlies play in Memphis, the scrappy Preds are the best option in the Music City right now…or I guess were before the lockout.

New Jersey Devils

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    Level of Concern: 4

    Despite their many Stanley Cup victories, one that came during the second most recent lockout (it’s sad we have to specify which lockout we’re talking about with the NHL), the Devils are a bit lost in New Jersey.

    With Rangers fans in the north and Flyers fanatics in the south, there are many hockey fans in the Garden State that are not missing the Devils specifically, but there are many people out there that are missing the sport itself.

New York Islanders

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    Level of Concern: 2

    Years ago the concern would have been much higher, but recently the Islanders have fallen on hard times.

    Before the team announced its move to the Barclays Center, older hockey fans that remember the franchise’s glory days may have panicked over losing one of the Islanders' last years in existence.

    Now that we know the Islanders will be around for the next 30-plus years, though, everyone except the biggest fans won’t mind missing what was bound to be another tough season on Long Island.

New York Rangers

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    Level of Concern: 5

    With the acquisition of Rick Nash, the Rangers looked like the NHL’s best team on paper.

    Losing a season would be a serious kick to the gut for hockey fans in the Big Apple.

Ottawa Senators

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    Level of Concern: 5

    Losing hockey in Canada’s capital? Yeah, that’s kind of a big deal.

Philadelphia Flyers

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    Level of Concern: 5

    The Phillies have been active in the offseason, the Sixers would probably be something special if Andrew Bynum decided to play and…I’m not going to say anything snarky about the Eagles in the interest of my own safety, but the Flyers are still incredibly beloved in Philly.

    Without the Broad Street Bullies to cheer for, the people in the City of Brotherly Love will have to resort to beating each other up until the lockout ends.

Phoenix Coyotes

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    Level of Concern: 2

    Even with the team’s recent success, the Coyotes' attendance remains one of the lowest in the league, making this franchise a financial black hole.

    While Phoenix’s recent playoff run generated excitement last season and the Suns, Cardinals and Diamondbacks have fallen on hard times, it’s hard to think that the average sports fan in Arizona is losing sleep over the recent lockout.

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Level of Concern: 5

    A Stanley Cup contender in one of America’s biggest sports towns, the Pittsburgh Penguins are dearly missed right now.

San Jose Sharks

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    Level of Concern: 4

    Although San Jose is the only Californian team that has yet to win the Stanley Cup, the Sharks' success over the years has created a strong hockey following in the Bay Area.

    On the other hand, the San Francisco Giants are coming off their second World Series win in three years, the Niners are considered Super Bowl contenders, and the Golden State Warriors are off to their best start in…well, a long time.

    In short, there are enough other options in the Bay Area to distract a sports fan during the lockout.

St. Louis Blues

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    Level of Concern: 5

    The Blues will never come close to the popularity of the Cardinals in St. Louis, but with a pitiful football team and no baseball right now, hockey is dearly missed in the Gateway to the West.

    The team’s postseason run last season has reminded fans in Missouri of the Blues teams before the other lockout that were perennial playoff teams. A lockout may have placed an unnecessary damper on their enthusiasm.

Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Level of Concern: 4

    Two years ago, Guy Boucher rejuvenated Tampa’s interest in hockey by taking the Lightning to the Eastern Conference Finals.

    Last season was a bit of a bummer, but with a new logo and renovated arena, the Bolts looked poised to captivate the city after a long lull of poor seasons following their Stanley Cup victory in 2004…which happened right before the second most recent lockout.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Level of Concern: 5

    Yeah, yeah Toronto has got what on paper looks like one of the most exciting teams in baseball in the Blue Jays and an up-and-coming basketball squad in the Raptors, but nothing compares to the Leafs in that market.

    Hockey is dearly missed in the Queen City.

Vancouver Canucks

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    Level of Concern: 5

    Vancouver is a team on the verge of winning a Stanley Cup for one of hockey’s most die-hard fanbases. Unfortunately, another lockout means another season without a championship for Canucks fans.

Washington Capitals

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    Level of Concern: 4

    DC is and always will be a Redskins city. On top of that, Georgetown basketball and an exciting Nationals team should satiate the passion of sports fans in Washington.

    At the same time the Capitals have been perhaps the most consistently competitive team in the District since, you know, the other lockout and will be missed in America’s capital.

Winnipeg Jets

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    Level of Concern: 5

    The NHL has been cruel to the great people of Winnipeg.

    First they relocated their team to Arizona, which we’ve found isn’t an outstanding hockey market. Then they give them another Jets team—this time the former Atlanta Thrashers, another city that didn’t embrace hockey—only to rip their hearts out again with another lockout.


    Tom Schreier writes a weekly column for TheFanManifesto.com and contributes to Hockey’s Future and Stadium Journey.

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