ESPN The Magazine has come out with its 2012 Ultimate Team Rankings in which it ranks all 122 pro franchises in the NHL, MLB, NFL and NBA based on eight categories:
1. Bang For The Buck
2. Fan Relations
5. Stadium Experience
8. Title Track
The Canadiens didn’t do too well, coming in at No. 111, but it was even worse for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who ranked dead-last at No. 122.
Here’s what Max Clinger of ESPN wrote about the Canadiens: “After the disastrous year the Canadiens just suffered, fans were undoubtedly upset: ‘One stupid decision after another’ ‘No vision’; ‘Physiologically unfit to have success’; and ‘Clinging to the hope that they can succeed despite their coach’ were just a few of the comments found on the Habs blog Eyes on the Prize. At the heart of this PR debacle were coach Jacques Martin (the Habs had the worst coaching score in the NHL and the second worst in all of sports) and GM Pierre Gauthier, who committed the faux pas of replacing Martin with a non-French speaking coach midseason. Gauthier was then was let go himself while the Canadiens were on their way to missing the playoffs – the first time in four seasons. Though a young core of talented players (see Max Pacioretty) offers hope, the storied fan base has a hard time seeing it after their team finished with the third-worst record in the league. They are also down on stadium experience, which dropped 52 points in a single year, something usually reserved for major structural disasters (like the one at the Nassau Coliseum). It doesn’t help that Canadiens fans still have the third-most expensive ticket prices in the NHL and the most expensive beer in all of sports. In the offseason, new management sought to make amends by bringing in new/old coach Michael Therrien. Still, in the battle for hearts and minds, the Canadiens have a long way to go.”
And here’s what Peter Keaning of ESPN wrote about the Leafs: “Is it possible to be No. 122 with a bullet? After finishing 120th or 121st in the standings every year from 2008 to 2011, Toronto hiked prices 7.2 percent, cratered to 13th place in the NHL’s Eastern Conference (GM Brian Burke said last season was ‘akin to an 18-wheeler going right off a cliff’) and finally bottomed out in our rankings. The Leafs are like the Yankees – an internationally famous franchise with a glorious history, devoted followers and staggeringly high prices – except they play like the Royals. Even worse, they regularly blow off fans: In our surveys, the Leafs finished dead last among all teams in the categories of player accessibility, staging promotions and giveaways, and engaging fans through social media – a hideous trifecta. And even though the team apologized for its performance in full-page newspaper ads in April, and Bell Canada and Rogers Communications, two of Canada’s biggest media companies, just closed a deal to buy the club, there’s little reason to expect change. The Leafs are by far the most valuable franchise in hockey and last year generated an enormous $81.8 million in profits. Now that’s Loonie.”
The NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder were ranked No. 1, followed by the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies.
The Phoenix Coyotes were the top-rated NHL team at No. 6.
You can see the complete ESPN list and read all about it by clicking here.
(Photo by John Kenney/The Gazette)