Power Ranking The 30 NHL Fan Bases

Michael Stuart@HB_MikeStuartCorrespondent IOctober 22, 2010

Power Ranking The 30 NHL Fan Bases

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    MONTREAL, QC - SEPTEMBER 27:  Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens prepares for his game against the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre on September 27, 2010 in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    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

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    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 16:  Fans of the Phoenix Coyotes cheer during the NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings at Jobing.com Arena on October16, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Red Wings defeated the Coyotes 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    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

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 08:  Fans of the Atlanta Thrashers hold up signs before facing the Washington Capitals at Philips Arena on October 8, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    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

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    SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 23: Florida Panthers fan Laura Stenicky holds up a sign supporting Bryan McCabe (not pictured) prior to the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on January 23, 2010 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeate
    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    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

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    UNIONDALE, NY - JUNE 25:  Fans cheer as Nino Niederreiter is drafted fifth overall by the New York Islanders during the Draft Day Party on June 25, 2010 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Islanders)
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    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

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    RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 19: A Hurricanes fan watches warmups prior to the game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center on November 19, 2009 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    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

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    DENVER - APRIL 24:  Colorado Avalanche fans celebrate Marek Svatos' second period goal to tie the score 1-1 with the San Jose Sharks during Game Six of the Western Conference Quaterfinals of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Pepsi Center on April 24, 2
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    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

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    NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 20:  A Predator fan wearing a 'Wings Suck' jersey shows up to see the Detroit Red Wings against the Nashville Predators on April 20, 2008 in game six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    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

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    TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 12: Fans arrive at the game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning on February 12, 2009 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    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

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    COLUMBUS, OH - JUNE 22:  Fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets wave flags prior to first round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft outside of Nationwide Arena on June 22, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    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

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    ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 23:  A fan of Anaheim Ducks cheers during the NHL game against Calgary Flames at the Honda Center on November 23, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    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

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    DALLAS - MAY 14:  Dallas Stars fans hold up 'Believe' towels against the Detroit Red Wings during game four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 14, 2008 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 12:  A young fan of the Los Angeles Kings watches the action before the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on January 12, 2009 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    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

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    OTTAWA, ON - APRIL 24:  Ottawa Senators' fans show their support in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quaterfinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Place on April 24, 2010 in Ottawa, Canada.  (Photo by Phil
    Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

    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

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    NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 08: New Jersey Devils team owner Jeff Vanderbeek meets with fans prior to the season opening game against the Dallas Stars at the Prudential Center on October 8, 2010 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    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

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    OTTAWA, ON - OCTOBER 08:  A large group of Buffalo Sabres fans invade the stands before a game against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place on October 8, 2010 in Ottawa, Ontario,  Canada. The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Ottawa Senators 2-1. (Photo by P
    Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

    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

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    BOSTON - MAY 14:  Boston Bruins fans react after their team lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 14, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Flyers defea
    Elsa/Getty Images

    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

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 22:  A young fan looks on during the preseason game between the St. Louis Blues and the Los Angeles Kings on September 22, 2008 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The Kings defeated the Blues 2-1. (Photo by Jamie Sq
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    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

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    WASHINGTON - APRIL 28: Fans of the Washington Capitals support their team against the Montreal Canadiens in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Verizon Center on April 28, 2010 in Washington,
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    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

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    SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 16:  San Jose Sharks fans react late in the third period before the Sharks lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 16, 2010 in San Jose,
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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

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    DENVER - NOVEMBER 08:  Fans of the Edmonton Oilers support their team against the Colorado Avalanche during NHL action at the Pepsi Center on November 8, 2009 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    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

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    NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 05: Fans watch warmups prior to the game between the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 5, 2009 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    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

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    SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 5: Calgary Flames fan Viktor Grant roots for his team during the game against the Florida Panthers on February 5, 2010 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    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

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    PITTSBURGH - APRIL 30:  A Pittsburgh Penguins fan arrives with a homemade Stanley Cup before Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 30, 201
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    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

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    VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 29:  Vancouver Canucks fans cheer during the game against the Anaheim Ducks in Game Three of the 2007 Western Conference Semifinals at General Motors Place on April 29, 2007 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Ducks won 3-2.
    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    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

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 11:  Fans look on as  players on the Philadelphia Flyers take  shots during warmups before a hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche at the Wells Fargo Center on October 11, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Paul Ber
    Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    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

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    DETROIT - MAY 4:  Fans of the Detroit Red Wings sit outside the arena along the banks of the Detroit River prior to the San Jose Sharks facing the Detroit Red Wings in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs at
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    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

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    ST PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 16:  Goaltender Niklas Backstrom #32 of the Minnesota Wild puts his arms up in disbelief after the go ahead goal by the Columbus Blue Jackets was allowed during the third period at Xcel Energy Center on October 16, 2010 in St Paul, M
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    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

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    BUFFALO, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs wave a Maple Leaf flag while playing the Buffalo Sabres  at HSBC Arena on September 25, 2010 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    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

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    BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 11: A fan of the Chicago Blackhawks expresses his wish during play between the Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks  at HSBC Arena on October 11, 2010 in Buffalo, New York.  Chicago won 4-3.(Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    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

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    MONTREAL, QC - MAY 22:  Fans of the Montreal Canadiens cheer during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre on May 22, 2010 in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    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! 

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