The National Hockey League poses the greatest fans in the world. Hockey fans go crazy for the sport. It's Canada's passion and sport, but hockey's popularity has increased rapidly in the United States as well. So much so that NBC inked a 10-year $2 billion dollar broadcasting deal with the league.
Some teams have passionate, die-hard fans and play to sell out crowds every night. Other teams have fans that appear only when they're winning. In still other NHL cities, they don't seem to care about hockey at all.
Let's take a look at hockey's ten most loyal fan bases.
All Attendance statistics are provided by ESPN.com
The Ottawa Senators play in the nation's capital, and that guarantees that hockey is big.
Fans there are crazy every night. Every time 11:11 remains in a period, the crowd chants "Alfie! Alfie!" in reference to captain Daniel Alfredsson who wears number 11.
The Senators have played to a capacity of 98.8 percent or greater since 2006-07, despite the Sens missing the playoffs twice in that span and advancing past the playoff's first round only once.
Whether they're competing for the Cup or playing for a top five pick, Senators fans are filling up the seats at Scotiabank Place. The Senators fans love their hockey, their team, and their captain.
There's a reason Minnesota is dubbed "The State of Hockey." Hockey is huge in Minnesota. Minnesota loves hockey and it's fans so much that once the NHL returned to Minnesota in 2000, number one was retired immediately as a gift to the fans for their patience.
The Xcel Energy Center is rocking every night. The Wild had a sellout streak of 409 games that lasted from October 2000 til September 2009. Although the streak ended, Wild fans haven't stopped showing up to support their team.
The Wild consistently rank among the top ten teams in attendance, having played to a capacity of 98.4 percent or greater the past six seasons.
The New York metropolitan area has three NHL teams, two NFL teams, two MLB teams, and two NBA teams. The New York Rangers are one of the most popular.
The Rangers had missed the playoffs every year from 2001-2004. However, they were still one of the top ten teams in attendance. Even when they were in the division basement, Rangers fans didn't stop showing up to Madison Square Garden. That's passion right there.
Whether they are competing for the Stanley Cup or watching the playoffs from their couches, the Rangers play behind an energetic and loyal fan base.
Hockey is major in Michigan. It's college team, The Wolverines, are always among the best in the NCAA.
But its NHL team, the Detroit Red Wings, make hockey big in Michigan. And Red Wings fans are everywhere across the United States as well. Many of their away games feature Wings fans.
Despite Detroit's poor economy, Red Wings fans continue to turn out in droves. The team has finished in the top four in league attendance all but one year since 2000-01.
Joe Louis Arena is always one of the loudest arenas in the entire league.
Red Wings fans will be right behind their team, and as a result they've been awarded 20 straight postseason appearances, and four Stanley Cup titles in that span.
The photo above is the streets of Vancouver packed with ecstatic fans celebrating their team's victory in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.
The Vancouver Canucks have a strong, passionate fan base. Everyone in Vancouver seems to love the Canucks. Even people who don't watch them regularly throughout the regular season pay attention during the playoffs.
The Canucks have sold out 408 consecutive games, the longest current sellout streak in the league. Rogers Arena is always packed with loud, energetic fans.They simply love their Canucks, and the Canucks reward their fans with plenty of trips to the postseason.
Canucks tickets are also known to be rather pricey, which is why you often see a large number of Canucks fans travel to California or Phoenix to see their team.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
In Calgary, the "Red Mile" gained notoriety during the Flames Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004. The streets in that town became a sea of red.
If you watch an old Flames playoff game, everyone, and I mean everyone, is wearing bright red Flames jerseys. Calgary fans are crazy for hockey, even if that means enduring 24 years without a Stanley Cup title. The Flames always play at a 100 percent capacity, even though they have missed the postseason the past three seasons.
Team management has come under plenty of criticism for its unwillingness to rebuild,expecting the team to compete every season. This is probably because they don't want to disappoint it's caring, passionate, and loyal fans.
The Philadelphia Flyers fans are known for being plenty of things: Obnoxious, excited, arrogant, merciless, and of course, loyal.
When an opposing team enters Wells Fargo Center, they know they are in for a long night. Not only do the Flyers play a physical, intimidating style, but their fans remind visitors one thing: This is their house.
When a penalty is called against their team, the crowd boos like it's Game Seven of the Stanley Cup finals.
The Flyers are always in the top five teams in attendance. When they were the worst team in the NHL, they still ranked seventh overall. That is loyalty and passion right there.
Flyers fans may be a loud, arrogant bunch, but there is no denying that Philadelphia has plenty of love for hockey.
The video is Game Six of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals, but judging by the crowd noise, it's easy to understand why one would think the Oilers had just won the Stanley Cup.
That is passion right there. The Edmonton Oilers faithful is as loyal as it gets.
The Oilers haven't returned to the postseason since that magical run that almost brought home the Stanley Cup. In fact, they have had the first overall pick in the draft for three straight years now.
But the Oilers fans still see their team play. Although they are paying a hefty price knowing that they are seeing a young, rebuilding, not-ready-to contend team, Oilers fans still go into Rexall Place to cheer on their Oilers. The passion of this team is so strong that the fans are being rewarded with a new arena.
The Oilers usually rank just outside of the top half in league attendance, even though they sell out all their home games. It's easy to understand why they're getting a larger arena.
The Toronto Maple Leafs haven't made the postseason since 2004. Ticket prices are the third highest in North America. Yet the Air Canada Center is sold out every night.
Another one of the original six teams, the Maple Leafs have always been very popular. There are a ton of Leafs fans across Canada who go back to the days when the country had only two NHL franchises. Many of those old school fans still support their Leafs.
Maple Leafs fans have also been known to be a frustrated bunch. But when you can't find a superstar goaltender, or good coach, and won't make the playoffs, how can you stay patient? I don't know how, but Leafs Nation has been able to. Through the highs and lows, Toronto has had an amazing fan base. Watch any Leafs road game, even in places like Montreal, and half of the fans are Maple Leafs fans.
The Maple Leafs also have an arrogant fan base, being quick to point out their 13 Stanley Cup titles—even though they haven't won a Cup since 1967—before the Great Expansion. Still, you have to shed a tear for these loyal fans who are never rewarded with a quality team.
The Montreal Canadiens have been around since 1909. They have won 24 Stanley Cups. They have 15 retired numbers representing 17 players. Sixty-one members of the Canadiens have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
They also have the most loyal fans in hockey. There is no debating it whatsoever.
The Habs have finished in the top two attendance every year since 2000-01. They haven't been a dominant team since their last Cup win in 1993. Nevertheless, their fans maintain their tradition of love for hockey and their team.
Canadiens' fans also take their love on the road. They travel great lengths to see their team play, since ticket prices in Montreal are extremely high.
The Canadiens fans represent what hockey, passion, and loyalty are. It's a proven fact.