Wednesday, July 1, 2009

ESPN names Maple Leafs worst organization in the NHL

Taking a quick break from the free agency talk...

ESPN The Magazine released it's 2009 Ultimate Standings today. The idea is to rank all 122 major North American franchises based on criteria such as ticket prices, roster quality, titles won and the relationship between ownership and fans.

Based on that, I'll bet you'll never guess how the Leafs did.

Yes, the Maple Leafs finished dead last in the NHL, and 120th out of 122 teams overall (suck it, Knicks and Clippers!)

Now keep in mind, this ranking isn't meant as a measure of the quality of the team itself, and it's certainly not meant to measure the fans. Quite the opposite, actually -- the magazine says it wants to measure "how much MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises give back to the fans in exchange for all the time, money and emotion the fans invest in them."

Given that criteria, it's hard to argue with the Leafs ranking. The only objection I'd have is that it's a year too late -- MLSE is finally doing the right thing by handing full control to Brian Burke. Maybe this sort of public kick in the pants will remind them to keep it out of the way.

I was interviewed by ESPN months ago for this year's rankings, and my comments appear in the Leafs profile. I had a sense from the beginning that the Leafs were going to wind up last, so this isn't a surprise.

As with all lists of this type, the end goal is mainly to inspire discussion, debate and angry ranting from fans. Let's just say there are more than a few head-scratchers. The Carolina Hurricanes as the NHL's top team? The Senators as the top team in Canada? Many will dismiss the whole thing for that reason.

Just remember: this is a black mark on Peddie, Tannenbaum and the rest of the MLSE suits. If anyone tries to tell you it's a knock on Leaf fans, tell them to go back and read it again. Or, if it's a Senators fan, to have it read to them.


  1. Well, at least one US sports media conglomerate got your blog name right.

  2. Our revenge will come, DGB. I have no idea how or when, but it'll come. If only revolutions like the ones France Russia had were still acceptable.

  3. ESPN barely know what hockey really is, bah humbug I say to ESPN. Though they may be right and MLSE does suck, I still have hope.

  4. So are the Coyotes, Islanders, Lightning and Thrashers no longer in the NHL?
    If the Leafs had signed Neil, they'd certainly be close to the worst organization in the league.

  5. Trevor, The ranking is based on how much the teams give back to their fans. I heard coyotes were giving free tickets to their fans. Thats one fan friendly organization. You know what would really motivate organizations. If overall revenue was based on your total wins. Watch how teams actually start to try then.

  6. Gary "Wife Stealer" LeemanJuly 1, 2009 at 10:40 PM

    Well, I knew something smelled like a stale fart at Madison Square Garden, and that would be my New York Knicks.

    I have some promotions for Leafs ownership to pursue as a means of increasing their ranking:

    Where in the World is Eric Fichaud and Brandon Convery?

    Tod Gill's "Puttin' on the Foil" Night.

    1st Annual Kerry Fraser Effigy Hanging Night

    Mike Palmateer: An Homage to right-handed goalies.

    and Is Harold Ballard Still Dead? Night.

    The loonies will be pouring in...

  7. DGB-
    Can you post all your draft day tweets in one post? It was a great collection.

  8. Woohoo. We moved up a spot from last year.

  9. Players relation with fans will probably increase with Mike Komisarek who loves to party with the female fans. Leafs might go up 2 spots next year.

  10. Carolina does have a great relationship with their fans. The whole atmosphere there is great, with lots of community activities as well.

  11. I get the premise of the list, but I'm not sure what the hell it's supposed to mean.

    I took my wife and her parents to a Lightning/Leafs game while we were visiting Tampa in February. In March, the Bolts' front office called me up - at my home in Paris Ontario, 1300 miles away - and told me there were tickets still available for the next night's Leaf game.

    An attentive, thoughtful and caring gesture from the Lightning front office, right? Won't find MLSE with my number on speed-dial offering me a friendly reminder to get my ducats for an upcoming game...

    But does this really tell us anything about respective quality of the organizations? Is my "relationship" (blecch, since when are sports fans using this term at any time other than in the sentence "I would rather watch hockey than talk about our relationship"?) with a team really defined by the level of their somewhat disturbing neediness for me? Am I only supposed to follow teams that are willing to send somebody out to wash my car? Don't lists like this really implicitly condone the concept of switching one's loyalties to find a "partner" that's more "attentive to our needs" and all that Oprah shit?

    "Meh," I say.

  12. Junior-bang on but in my house the sentence is usually "YOU'D rather watch hockey than talk about our relationship".

  13. Just an aside, my favourite basketball team is the Knicks. My brother's favourite basketball team is the Clippers. Funny they're both ranked in the last two spots.

    Anyway, I too find a few oddities on this list, chief of which is the fact the highest ranked Canadian team isn't a hockey team- it's the Toronto Blue Jays, clocking in at No. 31. Their argument is that the team experience is very inexpensive ($10 tickets!) and it's true that I take advantage of it on many occasions, but there's no way that team- which hasn't even had a sniff of a playoff berth since their World Series titles in 1992 and 1993- deserves to be in the top third. They're constantly teasing us fans with their "potential" but never do anything with it- that doesn't translate back to a sterling place among fans. The truth is, if the Leafs made the playoffs and/or played in June the SkyDome (oops, sorry, the "Rogers Centre") would be empty, because there's hardly a reason to support this wretched mess.

    As for who I really think ought to be up there- why not the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames? Those organizations actually look like they're trying to do something, and they're winners to boot. Definitely not Top 20 material because they too also tease with potential and do nothing with it, but they're further along in repaying their fans than the Blue Jays are.