Penguins rank high, Maple Leafs in the doghouse of ESPN's fan treatment polls

1 Comment

lemieuxandfans.jpgThe Chicago Blackhawks may have won the Stanley Cup this year, but an ESPN The Magazine poll found that the Pittsburgh Penguins are the gold standard in fan relations – not just among NHL teams, but in all of sports. Here’s more from the team’s site.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are ranked No. 1 in Fan Relations in all of professional sports, according to the 2010 “Ultimate Standings” compiled by ESPN The Magazine.

The publication rates all 122 teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB in eight different categories – Fan Relations, Bang for the Buck, Ownership, Affordability, Stadium Experience, Players, Coaching and Title Track. The standings were assembled via research and fan feedback.

ESPN describes the Fan Relations category as “Openness and consideration toward fans by players, coaches and management.”

The Penguins also rated No. 5 overall in the magazine’s “ultimate standings.” I dug around my copy of the magazine a little bit more to find some other interesting tidbits regarding where the sports network ranked different NHL teams when it comes to value, fan relations and so on. Here are a few nuggets that I found interesting.

  • The Detroit Red Wings were the other NHL team to make the top 10, placing eighth in the ultimate standings. The Washington Capitals (11th), San Jose Sharks (12th), Chicago Blackhawks (16th) and – stunningly – the Phoenix Coyotes (18th) rounded out the top 20.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs were considered the lowest of the low for NHL teams and were close to being the worst overall. They ranked 121st out of 122 sports franchises in the ultimate rankings while placing dead last in both affordability and “bang for the buck.”
  • The Red Wings ranked first in “ownership,” with the deciding qualities being “Honesty; loyalty to core players and local community.”
  • The Edmonton Oilers were the second lowest ranked hockey team (111th overall) while the Florida Panthers (106th), New York Rangers (104) and New York Islanders (103) were listed at 100 or below.
  • Nassau Coliseum, home of the Islanders, was ranked the worst venue in sports.
  • Apparently, the Shark Tank might own the best seat in sports. ESPN spotlighted Section 113, Row 17, Seat 16 as the “Ultimate Seat” thanks to its proximity to concession stands, bathrooms and the Sharks’ attack zone.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

Getty
Leave a comment

It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.

Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand

Getty
1 Comment

John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

First, take a look at the hit:

Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

1 Comment

Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.

Leafs’ Nylander puts on show with breakaway goal, assist on Matthews’ 33rd

3 Comments

This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Update: OK, so Nylander’s really stealing the show. This is stupendous.