Despite not making as much money as its North American sports counterparts, every NHL club has very supportive fans (some less than others, obviously), and many NHL clubs are quite valuable.
While every team is beloved by at least some, some teams are more beloved than others.
This is partly due to the rich history of many teams versus expansion teams that haven’t had much time to build quite the loyal fanbase the Original Six teams have.
Let’s take a look at 10 of the league’s most beloved teams.
Note: Before beginning, I would like to stress the point that these teams were selected mostly based on attendance numbers and franchise values, because these values are based on how profitable the team is. The team can’t be profitable if it doesn’t have a fanbase that loves and adores it. It’s not to say the other 20 NHL franchises aren’t beloved, and it’s not an insult to the rest of the league.
The city of Boston is known for being passionate about their sports teams, and the Boston Bruins are no exception.
The Bruins ranked fifth among Forbes' list of most valuable NHL franchises in 2010, valued at $302 million.
After their Stanley Cup win this year, the franchise's sixth, the value of the team will probably increase a bit from last year.
Whether or not the team is winning it all, the city of Boston will be behind the Bruins.
Canada is the modern home of hockey and, as such, the citizens of the country are very supportive and fanatical about their teams.
The Vancouver Canucks are no exception, even though the franchise has yet to win a Stanley Cup.
The team is ranked eighth in the league in terms of value, valued at $262 million in 2010.
The team has a solid core of the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler, and should increase their value for years because of that and the team's success.
The Edmonton Oilers aren't among the most valuable NHL franchises, but since they exist in Canada and have a rich history, they're still a valuable franchise.
According to Forbes, they were valued at $183 million in 2010.
Plus, that's in one of the smallest arenas in the league; if the Oilers had a bigger arena, they'd probably still be able to sell and be more valuable.
They've been at the bottom of the league the past couple seasons, but as they build their team around No. 1 draft picks, they'll add to their value in the coming years.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have struggled to be a profitable franchise in the past, but since the emergence of young stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the success that followed, the team hasn't had that problem.
Last season, a year after winning the franchise's third Stanley Cup, the Penguins were ranked ninth in the NHL among most valuable franchises (worth $235 million).
The team could continue to grow that value, especially with continued success, since they'll more than likely retain their core team for years to come.
The Chicago Blackhawks are another Original Six team with a huge following partly because of that.
The team has historically been successful, but after ending a 40-year Stanley Cup drought last summer, the Blackhawks have experienced even more support.
In 2010, they were ranked as the seventh most valuable franchise, valued at $300 million.
The team’s roster of young stars, like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, should help them remain beloved in the city for years to come.
The New York Rangers have a lot of teams to compete with in the Tri-state area, including a couple of hockey teams too.
However, the Rangers are one of the oldest teams in the area and the oldest hockey franchise as one of the Original Six teams.
They have four Stanley Cup wins, with the most recent coming in 1994.
Despite a 17-year drought, they are still one of the most valuable NHL franchises, according to Forbes, ranked solely behind the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Rangers' 2010 value was listed at $461 million.
When thinking about Philadelphia sports, many might think of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles or MLB’s Philadelphia Phillies first and foremost.
But for many in the City of Brotherly Love, the Philadelphia Flyers are at the forefront of their minds.
After all, the Broad Street Bullies epitomize the tough personality of the city, and that’s probably a contributing factor as to why the city loves them.
The team is the sixth-most valuable team in the league, valued at $301 million.
They have been selling out Wells Fargo Center (previously Wachovia Center) for a long time now, even when they were the worst team in the league not too long ago, and despite the fact that they haven’t won a Cup since the 1970s.
The Detroit Red Wings have historically been one of the most successful teams in the NHL, especially among American clubs.
They’ve dubbed Detroit "Hockeytown, USA" and have the most Stanley Cup wins among American franchises with 11. Their most recent Cup win came in 2008 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Red Wings' success has made them one of the most popular teams in recent decades, along with their continuous roster of Hall of Fame players or HOF-worthy players.
They are reportedly the fourth-most valuable NHL team and second-most valuable American club, valued at $315 million.
The Toronto Maple Leafs may be the most valuable NHL franchise, but the Montreal Canadians are the historically most successful NHL franchise.
The club has 23 Stanley Cup wins under their belt, with the most recent one in 1993.
The success of the team and the fact that it’s one of the oldest in the league have made the franchise one of the most beloved in the league.
Plus, since the Quebec Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche, the Canadiens are the only NHL club representing Quebec and the French-Canadians, which makes them even more important.
This has helped the team be the third-most successful NHL franchise, with their worth listed at $408 million by Forbes.
As much as Montreal Canadiens fans hate to hear it, the Toronto Maple Leafs are probably the most beloved team in the NHL.
They’re one of the Original Six teams, which affects their fanbase; plus, they’re a Canadian team, which makes more money and yields better turnouts than most American clubs.
The Leafs are historically the second-most successful team in the NHL, with 13 Stanley Cups.
Despite having not won a Stanley Cup in more than 40 years nor making the playoffs since the lockout, the team remains one of the most successful, with every game sold out and tickets almost impossible to get.
According to Forbes' 2010 values, the Maple Leafs are the most valuable franchise currently in the league, worth $505 million—considerably more than the $228 million league average.