Ranking the Loyalty of Each NHL Team's Fanbase

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IAugust 4, 2012

Ranking the Loyalty of Each NHL Team's Fanbase

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    Each NHL team has fans who will pay the hefty price of admission to support them night in and night out, but some fan bases are more loyal that others.

    Some teams have a rich history full of ups, downs, twists and turns and they have a fan base who have been there through it all. These teams are lucky because good fans are hard to come by.

    Other teams have a ton of bandwagon fans who joined for a playoff run while they were no where to be found during the regular season.

    Others have fans who joined the group after a Stanley Cup victory and there are attendance statistics to prove that.

    This slideshow will rank each NHL team based on the loyalty of their fans. It will take a look at a team's history, their successes, failures and what teams have continually had fan loyalty over the years.

30. Phoenix Coyotes

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    The Phoenix Coyotes are a team that tries hard but the effort isn't reflected by their fans unless the game really matters. Attendance figures really shot up from the regular season to when the Coyotes were in the middle of the playoffs.

    There were many times during the regular season where full rows were vacant but during the postseason run, there were tons of fans dressed in white garb for a Coyotes' white-out.

    There is a small group of die-hard fans but when the majority of the community doesn't want the franchise to be there, it truly says a lot.

29. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    The Columbus Blue Jackets have one of the NHL's newest and most fan-friendly arenas. That should be an asset to exploit but poor on-ice performances have resulted in a disgruntled fan base.

    A lot of the fans used to come to see Rick Nash play but now that he is a New York Ranger, the loyalty of the fans reflected by the attendance will take a huge hit.

    Columbus does have some young players and prospects but it will take time to build a relationship with the fans. If the NHL gives Columbus time to grow, they might be successful in the long run.

28. Dallas Stars

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    The Dallas Stars are a team that has had a tough time drawing fans into their home arena. They had a paltry 76.8 percent attendance rating at home this year and it is a true shame given the young talent Dallas has.

    When the Stars first moved from Minnesota, they had trouble drawing fans but the Stars had Mike Modano to help them grow the sport of hockey in Texas.

    With the high profile acquisitions of Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr, there is a good chance that attendance will be up next season because even casual fans will come see star players.

27. New York Islanders

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    The New York Islanders are in the bottom of the league in overall attendance, but they put up decent numbers at home. The Isles have a bevy of prospects and young players but the outdated Nassau Coliseum is a major strike against the Islanders.

    However, as a whole, the Islanders have a decent fan base when it comes to loyalty but it doesn't compare to the rest of the league. Once the Islanders get a new arena and their youth develops more, they have a good chance of becoming the next team to make a surprising rise to the top.

26. Carolina Hurricanes

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    The Carolina Hurricanes are a team that has been pretty consistent in terms of fan base attendance. The Canes had an 85.9 percent in attendance this season but in years past they were closer to 90.0 percent.

    Carolina had moderate success early on after relocating from Hartford so there wasn't a huge bandwagon effect after they won the Stanley Cup in 2006-07.

    The Hurricanes are going to grow in attendance this year after adding players like Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin so there could be an increase in bandwagon fans if they become more successful in the box office.

25. Colorado Avalanche

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    The Colorado Avalanche are in the middle of a growing youth movement after years of dominance in the Western Conference. Young players like Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny give the future of the franchise hope and that is reflected in attendance figures.

    The Avalanche fan base is pretty loyal sticking with their squad through the thick and thin, but they have a tough time competing with some of the larger markets in the attendance standings. In 2011-12, Colorado finished with an 86.1 percent rating at home.

24. New Jersey Devils

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    The New Jersey Devils have one of the newest arenas in the NHL and lower ticket prices help draw fans. However, the loyalty of the fan base isn't one of the highest in the league.

    During the Devils playoff run, there were a number of times that the Devils didn't sell out a home playoff game before puck drop.

    With the face of the franchise Marty Brodeur nearing retirement, Zach Parise gone and the team in troubled financial waters, attendance may take a hit in 2012-13. If the Devils can play well and can keep their roster in tact, they will draw fans.

23. Anaheim Ducks

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    The Anaheim Ducks are one of the NHL's younger franchises.  It is in the state of California where hockey often takes a back seat to the other major sports, but the Ducks do pretty well for themselves. 

    When the Ducks entered the league, they were a Disney novelty but over the years they have developed into a formidable hockey team.

    However, there was a slight bandwagon factor as overall numbers increased in attendance right after the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007. Nonetheless, the Ducks have a pretty loyal franchise.

22. Florida Panthers

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    Florida is a state that you wouldn't think would be the home for two professional hockey teams. One of those teams is the Florida Panthers and they are a team that has a solid fan base.

    The fans waited years and years for another playoff berth and this year the Panthers made their mark with a division title.

    The fans are also very passionate in their cheers and their displays of support and that was evident with the Panthers victory rats during the regular season and early playoffs.

    Considering that the Panthers are located in a non-traditional hockey market, it is impressive what they are able to do with the fan base.

21. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning are the other team in the state of Florida and they have had more success than the Panthers. The Bolts won the Stanley Cup in 2003-04 and have had on and off success since that point. 

    Tampa Bay has a small but tight-knit following and they ranked 21st in home attendance during the 2011-12 season. With a balanced team and a new direction, Tampa's fan base will continue to grow the next few seasons.

20. Los Angeles Kings

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    Yes, the Los Angeles Kings just won the Stanley Cup, but before this season, where were the majority of their fans? Forget before this season, where were the fans during the first half of this season when it looked like the Kings would miss the playoffs?

    The Staples Center was pretty empty in the first half of the season when you compare the building attendance during the second half and playoffs.

    When the Kings started playing better, the building filled up and the rest is history.

    While there was a good deal of fans that waited and waited for the Kings' first championship, there was a huge majority of bandwagon fans. 

19. Washington Capitals

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    The Washington Capitals have a very passionate fan base that takes hockey seriously. The Caps have one of the loudest arenas in the NHL and the fans love to execute a well-timed "red out" especially during the playoffs. 

    The Capitals really started to take off after Alex Ovechkin came to town so there is a bit of a bandwagon aspect associated with the team. Nonetheless, the Caps have a passionate and loyal fan base that enjoys supporting the team.

18. Ottawa Senators

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    Don't take this rating the wrong way because the Ottawa Senators have great fans in one of Canada's hockey hotbeds.

    However, the team fails to draw over 100 percent in total attendance. During the 2011-12 season, the Sens had a 97.2 percent attendance rating but with the emergence of talented young players like Erik Karlsson, this number should increase next season.

17. Buffalo Sabres

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    The Buffalo Sabres are a franchise that struggled with ownership in recent years before Terry Pegula took the reins. As a result of poor ownership and lack of funds, the Sabres had to part with young and talented forwards and that didn't sit well with the fan base.

    However, the Sabres are starting to piece things together and they have a nice blend of talent on the roster. Last season, the Sabres finished with a 99.9 percent attendance rating at home.

16. Nashville Predators

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    The Nashville Predators have developed a solid following over the past few years. Shea Weber is the face of the franchise for the foreseeable future and that should make the Music City very happy.

    There is never a shortage of fan interaction or star-power at the game because one of the Predators' primary season ticket holders is Carrie Underwood—who is also married to Predators alternate captain Mike Fisher—and she has been often seen with country music star Taylor Swift.

    The Preds are right in the middle for the fan bases.

15. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    You may think this ranking is low but where were the Pittsburgh Penguins fans when the franchise was on the verge of bankruptcy before the team was purchased by Mario Lemieux and salvaged from mediocrity?

    After the success in the early 90s, by the time 2000 rolled around, fans were priced out of the building so it isn't completely their fault.

    The Penguins have a rabid and passionate fan base but it isn't one of the NHL's most loyal ones.

    A good percentage of the fan base has no first hand memory of the golden years and some have latched onto the coat tails of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and their Stanley Cup victory.

    Pittsburgh continually had the one of the league's worst attendance records before the team was saved by Lemieux and now they have one of the highest attendance percentages in the NHL.

    At the end of the day, the Penguins have a ton of fans but there aren't enough grassroots fans that have been through the thick and thin.

    Lemieux also saved the franchise earlier during his playing days and he is the main reason why the Penguins have won three Cups during his involvement with the team.

14. Chicago Blackhawks

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    The Chicago Blackhawks fan base is very similar to the Pittsburgh Penguins fan base in the sense that it grew tremendously after a Stanley Cup victory.

    The Blackhawks organization was in a tough situation and attendance was very low during the early 2000s.

    However, when Rocky Wirtz stepped into the picture after the death of his father Bill Wirtz, improvements were made, corporate sponsorship deals were made, attendance rose and the team became competitive again after smart moves and solid drafting.

    When the Blackhawks eventually won the Stanley Cup, the attendance ratings went through the roof and the bandwagon of fans surged.

    Don't get me wrong, the Blackhawks have a fair share of passionate fans who sell out the United Center, but what percentage of them has been through the thick and thin of it all?

    The team was at a point where they were almost dead last in total attendance and then they slowly became a top team after a Stanley Cup victory. 

    The team's last cup victory had been in the year 1961 so it is understandable for some fans to have lost faith.

13. San Jose Sharks

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    The San Jose Sharks are one of the three teams that are located in the state of California. The Sharks entered the league back in 1991 and it has had its share of success and failures. In their 21 years in the league, the Sharks have developed a pretty die-hard fan base in a state where hockey takes a back seat.

    The Sharks are known to have one of the loudest fan bases in the NHL and their arena helps them get louder. San Jose does have some tourist and celebrity fans mixed in but overall they have a solid group.

    During the 2011-12 season, the Sharks had an overall attendance rating of 97.2 percent.

12. Vancouver Canucks

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    Not many teams can say they have a fan base that would riot in their name after a win or a loss. The Canucks have a very passionate fan base and they made headlines after a Stanley Cup loss in 1994 and 2011.

    Inside the arena, the Canucks are well supported especially by the "Green Men" who sit alongside the penalty box of the opposing team.

    Overall, the Canucks have a solid fan base.

11. Calgary Flames

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    The Calgary Flames are a team that has a rabid and devout fan base. The Flames have been off and on during the past decade but the fans still support the Flames with a lot of passion.

    There is no denying the passion and loyalty of the fans that constantly fill up the Saddledome each and every night.

    That passion and dedication is reflected with the Flames 100.0 percent attendance at home and a 96.7 percent overall rating.

10. St. Louis Blues

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    The St. Louis Blues entered the NHL in 1967 as a part of the first major expansion. Since that time, the Blues have not won a Stanley Cup. Throughout the years, the Blues have had rosters full of top talent that include names like Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis.

    Currently, the Blues are one of top teams in the Western Conference and they have a coach and roster that should allow the team to compete for the Stanley Cup in the coming years.

    The fans are so dedicated and loyal to the franchise that they filled up 99.9 percent of the building on average during the 2011-12 season.

9. Winnipeg Jets

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    The Winnipeg Jets did pretty well in the NHL for their first season back in Winnipeg. They have a pretty dedicated following and the citizens of Winnipeg bought up 13,000 season tickets in a little less than a day and that screams dedication.

    The Jets had a 97.7 percent overall attendance rating and they were 100 percent while at home. The Jets are going to continue to grow and the fans of Winnipeg will grow along with them.

8. Minnesota Wild

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    The Minnesota Wild represent the state of Minnesota and the "State of Hockey". The Wild have a devout and loyal following and the fans of the Wild were absolutely thrilled when it was announced that Zach Parise and Ryan Suter would be joining the Wild. 

    The Wild had a 98.4 percent attendance rating overall during the 2011-12 season and that will only continue to grow as the team continually improves.

7. Edmonton Oilers

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    The Edmonton Oilers have had a loyal fan base for years and they have one of the most vocal fan bases today.

    The fans were joyous when the team entered the NHL and since that day they have been through a lot so when it ultimately pays off, it will be worth it.

    The fans saw the joyous years of Gretzky and Messier winning multiple Cups. Then they saw the departure of Gretzky and they have now started a new youth movement.

    The Oilers have the team, they have the fans and in the coming years they will hopefully have a new building for their fans to support the Oilers for a very long time.

6. Boston Bruins

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    The Boston Bruins are an Original Six franchise with tons of history. The fans are passionate and they have remained very loyal throughout the history of this storied team.

    Through the thick and thin, the fans have remained loyal and passionate and the Bruins 2010-11 Cup victory was the culmination of many years of waiting and suffering.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs are a team that has really endured a lot. Their last Stanley Cup championship was in 1967 and the fans have really supported the team through the years. Air Canada Centre is always packed with passionate, die-hard fans.

    They have a staggering 103.7 percent attendance percentage at home and each person in the building is nuts for the Leafs.

4. New York Rangers

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    The Broadway Blueshirts are a team that has constantly sold out Madison Square Garden year after year. Fans flock with passion to the World's Most Famous Arena to root on the New York Rangers.

    The team went through tough times during the late 90s to the mid 2000s, but the fans remained loyal. Now that the fans have seen a successful youth movement come to fruition mixed in with a blend of star players, they are ready for the Rangers to take it to the next level by winning another Stanley Cup.

    The Rangers had the best overall attendance percentage during the 2011-12 season with a 102.4 percent rating.

3. Detroit Red Wings

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    The Detroit Red Wings have one of the most loyal fan bases in NHL history. The team is an Original Six franchise that has won multiple championships and it has had many star and generational players represent them.

    The Wings are one of the most well attended teams in the league, they have a distinct home-ice advantage and the fans support the team through the good and the bad.

2. Philadelphia Flyers

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    The Philadelphia Flyers have a very passionate group of fans that will always support the team. The Broad St. Bullies fan base can be very opinionated and obnoxious towards rival fans in the arena, but they are very supportive of the boys in orange and black.

    The Flyers had the best home attendance in the NHL during the 2011-12 season and their 107.4 percent attendance rating at home was very impressive.

1. Montreal Canadiens

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    The Montreal Canadiens have the most passionate and loyal fan base in hockey. The sport is religion in Montreal and the fans there are crazy all the time for everything concerning the Canadiens.

    The Canadiens always sell out the Bell Centre and there is nothing better than taking in a game live from Montreal.


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