Power Ranking The 30 NHL Fan Bases
Hockey fans are some of the craziest fans in the world. It's fair to say that each and every one of us bleeds our team's colours. For me, it's purple, silver and black. Each team has built a very unique fan base full of excitement. In this slide-show, I will be ranking the 30 National Hockey League fan bases.
There are so many hockey fans out there and each one has a story to tell. If you have a great story to share with us about your experience as a fan, please leave it in the comment section below. One of the greatest things about sports is the passion shown by fans. Each and every single fan has a passion for hockey.
These ranking will not be based solely on attendance or merchandise sold. They will be based on so many more factors. Please leave a comment to let me know whether you agree with where your team sits in my rankings.
There may be some surprises here, but this is strictly my opinion backed by various statistics. I hope that you enjoy the read. It was a lot of fun putting it together.
Follow me on Twitter: @michaelstuart93
No. 30: Phoenix Coyotes
Home Arena: Jobing.com Arena
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 11,989
Percent Capacity: 68.5
I don't think that I'm the only hockey fan who thought that it was great when Jobing.com Arena was filled up in the playoffs. The Phoenix Coyotes need more fan support. It's a shame to see that a dynamite team like the Coyotes could only bring in about 12,000 fans last season. There has been a lot of talk lately about the Coyotes actually staying in Phoenix. I think that over time, if the team keeps winning, the fan base could grow into a much stronger one. As of right now, the Coyotes have the worst fan base in the league.
No. 29: Atlanta Thrashers
Home Arena: Philips Arena
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 13,607
Percent Capacity: 73.4
It must be tough to be a Thrashers fan. Over the years you have lost great players like Kovalchuk, Hossa and Heatley.
I can't imagine going through that every year.
The problem for the Thrashers right now is that they don't have that marketable player. Ilya Kovalchuk was that guy. He helped keep this team afloat. Right now, the team must be hoping that they can get another high draft pick in order to stay at least competitive. Last year they didn't fill the building, and they had Kovalchuk.
Imagine what this year could bring!
The numbers may not be pretty for Atlanta Thrashers' ownership.
No. 28: Florida Panthers
Home Arena: BankAtlantic Center
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 15,146
Percent Capacity: 78.7
The Florida Panthers fan base is in a very interesting situation right now.
There is no doubt that they are not a very good team right now, but fans must remember that Dale Tallon is at the helm of this team. Everyone knows what he did in Chicago. The thing is, Florida isn't a traditional hockey market.
If Dale Tallon is going to have a terrible team for a few years in order to stockpile draft picks, he risks losing fans.
Hockey fans in Florida aren't going to stick around like they would in a traditional hockey market. There's a dangerous game being played in Florida right now. The building isn't going to be filled many nights this year.
No. 27: New York Islanders
New York Islanders:
Home Arena: Nassau Coliseum
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 12,735
Percent Capacity: 78.1
It's tough to attract fans when you are working on a tight budget like the New York Islanders.
It's even tougher to attract fans when three of your top players go down with long term injuries early in the season.
Luckily for the Islanders, they got off to a hot start. With a good amount of young players, the Islanders should become more competitive in the years to come. Right now, they just aren't that good.
It hasn't been much fun to be an Islanders fan over the past few years; and it looks that like struggle is going to continue this season.
No. 26: Carolina Hurricanes
Home Arena: RBC Center
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 15,240
Percent Capacity: 81.4
It's hard to remember that this team is only a few years removed from winning Lord Stanley's cup.
After a few years of mediocrity, this team needs to get back to the successful team that it once was. They've lost a lot of fans since winning the cup. That trend will only continue until they can ice a more competitive team.
Like Atlanta and Florida, Carolina may not be considered a traditional hockey market. Therefore, it's imperative that this team wins if they want to attract fans.
No. 25: Colorado Avalanche
Home Arena: Pepsi Center
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 13,947
Percent Capacity: 77.5
Does everyone remember when the Colorado Avalanche was one of the most feared teams in the Western Conference? They had big rivalries with Detroit and Vancouver, they were competitive every night and they had great fans backing them up.
Fast forward a few years, and we are looking at a team with the #3 pick in the draft, low attendance numbers and ticket packages that make you wonder how they even make money.
I recently read that there was a promotion where it was $99 for 4 tickets, 4 pepsi drinks and 4 hot dogs. I don't know that you could get parking at Rogers Arena for that much money (I'm only kidding).
That just shows you that the Colorado Avalanche are really trying to attract the fans back to the Pepsi Center.
No. 24: Nashville Predators
Home Arena: Bridgestone Arena
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 14,979
Percent Capacity: 87.5
The Nashville Predators are a very interesting team. They have one of the best coaches in the league and they remain solid year after year. It's too bad that the fan base doesn't seem to see what the rest of the league sees.
While they do attract a fair amount of fans, it's not enough. This team has a star in Shea Weber and yet, few people go to see him. The reason they are ranked so low is that more people should go to see this team and appreciate the product that they put out on the ice with a limited budget.
Sure the attendance numbers are over 85%, but in the grand scheme of things for a good team, it's not enough.
I really like the Nashville Predators. In my opinion they are one of the most under-appreciated teams in the league.
No. 23: Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Home Arena: St. Pete Times Forum
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 15,497
Percent Capacity: 78.4
Here is a team with superstars. The Lightning have Stamkos, St. Louis, Gagne, Hedman and so many more names that just make you say wow. How is it that they only fill 15,000 seats?
It's crazy when you really think about it. This team is going to be great. Even though they missed the playoffs last year, they were still exciting to watch. With Steve Yzerman at the helm and a new coach in Guy Boucher, is there any reason to not be a Lightning fan?
This team could regain its form as one of the top teams in the league. It's a shame that more fans don't see it that way in the struggling market of Tampa Bay.
I'm honestly shocked at the little amount of respect given to the Lightning. More people should go out and support this team. It's only a matter of time before they start winning again.
No. 22: Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets:
Home Arena: Nationwide Arena
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 15,416
Percent Capacity: 85.0
This team has one of the most interesting fan bases in the league. It's really tough to attract fans when you haven't won a playoff series in your history.
Just the other day the Blue Jackets had their lowest attendance in franchise history!
This ranking of 22 could drop even lower if that keeps up. It's a little bit scary right now in Columbus. Fans are worrying about this team's ability to win when it counts. It doesn't help that Rick Nash really doesn't have anyone to line up beside him. Yet, I would think that having a superstar like Rick would draw in more fans.
No. 21: Anaheim Ducks
Home Arena: Honda Center
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 15,168
Percent Capacity: 88.3
It's quite interesting to be a Kings fan and watch what's happened to the Ducks over the past few seasons. They are only a few years removed from winning it all and yet they are a completely different team.
They've lost Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and so many more important players. It's no wonder that the fans have left also.
They still attract decent crowds, but nothing like they once did. This team will probably lose even more fans this season (let's be honest, they aren't going to be very good). I have to wonder if the rebuild in Anaheim will take too long. Fans could lose patience and move on.
It's tough being a hockey team in a non-hockey market.
No. 20: Dallas Stars
Home Arena: American Airlines Center
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 17,215
Percent Capacity: 92.9
The Dallas Stars are another team going through a rebuild right now. As I've previously mentioned, it's tough for teams to attract fans while they aren't playing well.
Interestingly enough, the Stars are off to a great start this season. I for one don't think that they will keep it up. When you consider that they didn't make the playoffs last year, but they still nearly filled the building, they do have fans.
The thing that drops the Stars down this list is the passion. I don't think that you can compare the passion of Stars fans to the passion of the fans that you will see in the coming slides.
No. 19: Los Angeles Kings
Los Angeles Kings:
Home Arena: Staples Center
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 17,313
Percent Capacity: 93.6
Does this show that I'm not biased? I ranked the Kings down this list for a number of reasons.
The one big thing about the Kings is that their fan base doesn't have the reach like some teams. I go to a game in Vancouver and there may only be 5 or 6 Kings fans in the entire building. That being said, they manage to fill the Staples Center close to capacity on a nightly basis.
I predict that the Kings will move up this list in the coming years as I strongly feel that they are the next Chicago.
This team has a lot of talent. It's only a matter of time before casual hockey fans catch on and join the purple, silver and black.
No. 18: Ottawa Senators
Home Arena: Scotiabank Place
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 18,269
Percent Capacity: 98.8
This one may come as a big shock to some of you. The Senators manage to fill their arena on a nightly basis, they are competitive and they ice a good product.
Why are they so low on this list?
When you look at the Canadian teams in this league, each has a big following around North America. All of them have fans in many different places. I would say that this is true for all but the Ottawa Senators.
They are another team that doesn't have the reach of some of the giant teams in the league. It's unfortunate to see, but it's the truth. Therefore, the Ottawa Senators are the lowest ranked Canadian team on this list.
No. 17: New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils:
Home Arena: Prudential Center
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 15,535
Percent Capacity: 88.1
Yikes! Things aren't looking too good in New Jersey right now. Had they not had decent numbers last season, they could be even lower on this list.
I've read multiple articles stating that the Devils are having trouble selling seats at the Prudential Center. When you consider that they just signed Ilya Kovalchuk to a massive contract to up the tempo of this team, it's a little bit worrying.
They've got Parise, Zajac, Volchenkov and Kovalchuk as star power, yet they can't fill seats. It must be scary to be a Devils fan right now.
I remember a time when friends of mine would don Devils jerseys. Those days are long gone. It's a shame, but it's reality.
No. 16: Buffalo Sabres
Home Arena: HSBC Arena
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 18,529
Percent Capacity: 99.1
To me, the beginning of this list is pretty clear and the end of this list is pretty clear. It's the middle that is a little bit of a grey area.
The Buffalo Sabres are a good team, they sell seats, the sell merchandise, the ice a good product, but they are another team that doesn't have the reach.
When you consider that people from all around the United States follow the Penguins for Crosby and the Capitals for Ovechkin, it's pretty clear that the Sabres don't have that same effect with Ryan Miller.
It's a shame because this team has a lot of young power coming up through the ranks. Tyler Myers is going to be in the hall of fame one day in my opinion. Too bad the Sabres don't attract fans from afar; they could have one of the best fan bases in the league.
No. 15: Boston Bruins
Home Arena: TD Garden
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 17,388
Percent Capacity: 99.0
I would have thought that the Bruins would have had more of a following.
It's still pretty cool to think about the glory days with Bobby Orr, but in recent memory there hasn't been a lot to cheer about. The Bruins manage to be a competitive team, but I still don't think that they have what it takes to go all the way. I think that this feeling resides in the minds of lots of hockey fans.
If you don't think a team has what it takes to win, are you really going to support them in their quest to finish in the playoff bracket and then get knocked out? Probably not. The Bruins have a real player in Tyler Seguin right now. Hopefully he attracts some fans to TD Garden.
No. 14: St. Louis Blues
St. Louis Blues:
Home Arena: Scottrade Center
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 18,883
Percent Capacity: 98.6
They've got a lot of fans in St. Louis, but not many elsewhere. They don't have that star player that attracts fans both near and far.
I think that they are hoping that Jaroslav Halak becomes that player after his heroics for Montreal in last spring's playoffs, but it's still too early to tell. It is hoped that the young core in St. Louis will rebound after a disappointing season last year.
Hockey was dying in St. Louis a few years ago. Had it not been for making the last season push to make the playoffs two years ago, the Blues would have been in serious trouble. Even though they were swept by Vancouver, that playoff series ignited fans in St. Louis.
Thank goodness for them because it looked as though they were going to go under.
No. 13: Washington Capitals
Home Arena: Verizon Center
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 18,277
Percent Capacity: 100.0
You can see that the Capitals sold out last year, but what happened in the playoffs? They were taken out by a hot Montreal team.
The Capitals are under a lot of pressure to perform this year. Fans are starting to get frustrated. If the Capitals can't put it all together this year, watch for some big changes.
Capitals fans aren't stupid. They see that this team has all of the pieces needed to be successful. When you consider that this market was down and out a few years ago, it's amazing to think about how far they've come.
Yet the question remains, how long will fans wait before they give up hope again? In my opinion, not long.
No. 12: San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks:
Home Arena: HP Pavilion
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 17,558
Percent Capacity: 100.4
It's pretty amazing when you think that the Sharks made hockey work in a place where no one thought it would.
They consistently sell out and they ice a team that is capable of winning on any given night. Though right now, the window of opportunity is closing.
They have failed in the playoffs for so many years. This is another team where the fan base is beginning to get frustrated. I'm not sure how many more chances this team is going to get.
Sharks fans have lived through years of disappointment. Selling out the building isn't the problem, it's getting wins once the playoffs start.
Hopefully the fans don't worry too much or this team's ranking could go way down.
No. 11: Edmonton Oilers
Home Arena: Rexall Place
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 16,839
Percent Capacity: 100.0
Is it just me, or are those numbers really impressive? When you consider that the Oilers were by far the worst team in the National Hockey last year, those numbers scream impressive.
To consistently sell out, when fans know you are going to lose, is remarkable.
One really great thing about the Oilers right now is their three young guys on the team. What do these three do? They get jerseys off the rack, the sell tickets and they spread the fan base. Everyone knew about Taylor Hall as a member of the Windsor Spitfire. Now, everyone will follow him as an Edmonton Oiler. It's similar to the John Tavares situation. I don't follow the Islanders, but I know how he is doing.
The Oilers are trending in the right direction and they have a great fan base with them.
No. 10: New York Rangers
New York Rangers:
Home Arena: Madison Square Garden
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 18,076
Percent Capacity: 99.3
The Rangers missed the playoffs last year but they managed to sell seats.
Getting people to come to Madison Square has never really been a problem for the Rangers. There has been so much to cheer about over the years. This team has old fans, young fans, new fans and every other type of fan you can think of.
People in New York love the Rangers. If they can finally break through and become a top tier team, they could be really dominant in the world of fan bases.
Whether or not you like them, you can't deny that the Rangers get a lot of press which spreads the fan base over a wider area. Doesn't everyone love the way John Tortorella and Larry Brooks converse? It's priceless.
No. 9: Calgary Flames
Home Arena: Scotiabank Saddledome
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 19,289
Percent Capacity: 100.0
Here is another team that has a frustrated fan base. I don't think that these fans can deal with another year of mediocrity.
Unfortunately for them, the start of this season hasn't been overly great.
Fans want to see more out of the top line players for Calgary. The thing about the Flames is that they manage to sell out even though they aren't great. Another thing about Calgary's fan base is that they have Jarome Iginla. Being a warrior for Canada helps bring popularity to the Flames.
The Flames need to perform this season. If they don't, fans could end up losing faith in the Sutters (I know a lot already have). This is an important year in Calgary.
It will be interesting to see what happens with this big fan base.
No. 8: Pittsburgh Penguins
Home Arena: Consol Energy Center
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 17,078
Percent Capacity: 100.7
** Attendance statistics taken from Mellon Arena
The Pittsburgh Penguins have passionate fans. After years of mediocrity and terrible teams, they drafted Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. I don't think that there is any team that has better depth at center ice than the Penguins (the Canucks would be right up there).
Fans started charging into the igloo to see this young team take the ice. They were rewarded with the Stanley Cup. That just topped off the rebuild. To think that hockey was nearly dead in Pittsburgh and that relocation talks were everywhere is just amazing.
Now, this team has one of the widest fan bases in the entire league. Not only is their fan base massive, it's passionate. Don't tell a Penguins fan that Sidney Crosby is a whiner, I'll tell you that much!
No. 7: Vancouver Canucks
Home Arena: Rogers Arena
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 18,810
Percent Capacity: 102.1
The Vancouver Canucks hold the longest sell-out streak in the National Hockey League.
When you look at Canucks fans, you can't help but notice the immense amount of passion that each and every single one of them holds. Canucks fans live all over the continent and cheer on their team every time they take to the ice.
I'll warn you though, don't go onto Canucks.com's boards and start bad mouthing them. You'll be roasted by passionate fans. I think that sort of unification is great to see from hockey fans.
This team is going to be great this season. Most fans and experts alike seem to think that they have a great shot at winning the cup for the first time in their 40 year history.
Wouldn't that be a great way to repay the passionate fans for years of waiting, watching and supporting? I surely think so.
No. 6: Philadelphia Flyers
Home Arena: Wells Fargo Center
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 19,535
Percent Capacity: 100.2
There was something special about last year's run to the Stanley Cup Finals. I don't know whether it was because no one expected it or because some players turned in great performance. There was just something special.
I think that last year's run turned a lot of people into Flyers fans. The thing is, it's not like the Flyers were short of fans prior to last years run. Flyers fans are knowledgeable, passionate and intense. It's great to see a fan base care so much about their team and the game in general.
I know that no one expects the Flyers to go on another run this season, but you never know. Wouldn't it be great?
No. 5: Detroit Red Wings
Detroit Red Wings:
Home Arena: Joe Louis Arena
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 19,546
Percent Capacity: 97.4
The Detroit Red Wings have got to be considered the best team in the league over the last 10 to 15 years. They've drafted well, played well, and won when it counted.
It's pretty easy to become a fan of the team that's winning, but Red Wings fans are more than that.
They bleed red (literally).
Ask any fan of the Detroit Red Wings anything about the team and they will tell you. These fans are some of the most knowledgeable in the game. It's truly great to see a city care so much about the game of hockey. Having great players like Howe, Yzerman and Lidstrom suit up for the team has just been a bonus for the passionate fans.
No. 4: Minnesota Wild
Home Arena: Xcel Energy Center
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 18,415
Percent Capacity: 101.9
Now I've got to give Wild fans credit.
Any fan base that can fill a building while having to watch Jacques Lemaire style hockey (no offense) is a great one in my books. They are passionate fans in the state of Minnesota.
I think that the really great thing about the Wild is that it is truly the state's team. It's not just St. Paul. When you consider that Minnesota is probably the hotbed of hockey in the states, it's not a surprise that this team has quite the following.
Now, mired in a state of mediocrity, the team is trying to find an identity. With a great fan base behind the players, it shouldn't be hard.
No. 3: Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs:
Home Arena: Air Canada Centre
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 19,260
Percent Capacity: 102.5
What a great fan base the Toronto Maple Leafs have! It's great to see fans from all over the country support this one team.
I read a funny quote today about the Maple Leafs selling out their building. "Lose or lose, fans flock to see the Maple Leafs play." Isn't that so true?
This team wasn't good last season and they didn't even have that high draft pick to look forward to, yet, fans stormed the doors of the ACC to see this team play. In my opinion, this is one of the most passionate fan bases in the entire league.
Now, the the future looking brighter, Maple Leaf fans can come out and be proud to wear the blue and white.
No. 2: Chicago Blackhawks
Home Arena: United Center
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 21,356
Percent Capacity: 108.3
I think that a lot of people would have the Chicago Blackhawks pegged as number one on this list. It's tough to say.
The Blackhawks were down and out a few years ago. I recently heard that players would be given tickets to go hand out, just to get people to come into the United Center. That's a pretty scary situation if you ask me.
Now, look at this team. It's nearly impossible to buy a ticket. They sell out every night, people watch them from all over North America, and they are Stanley Cup Champions.
Life is grand for Chicago Blackhawk fans.
I commend this large fan base for sticking around for 49 years. It would be interesting to hear from you folks. Was it worth the wait?
No. 1: Montreal Canadiens
Home Arena: Bell Centre
2009/2010 Average Attendance: 21,273
Percent Capacity: 100.0
To be honest, there was never really any doubt as to which team would be given the number one spot.
The Montreal Canadiens have the best fan base in the league.
They are a huge market with fans all over the place. One of the coolest things is when I go to Vancouver Canucks game against the Canadiens, about half of the people at Rogers Arena are in red, white and blue.
Is that not the definition of an amazing group of fans?
The history of this team is great, the future is going to be great, and who could forget the 24 Stanley Cups? These fans are so passionate and knowledgeable.
People in Montreal live, breathe, eat and sleep hockey. It's a truly amazing thing to see. Congratulations to Canadiens fans for finishing first on my list!