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

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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.

Good news: Colaiacovo traveling with Sabres

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It was a scary sight.

Carlo Colaiacovo fell to his hands and knees after taking a cross-check to the throat from Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson (above).

Arvidsson received a five-minute major and a game misconduct, while Colaiacovo suffered a dented trachea on the play.

After the game, both Dan Bylsma and Peter Laviolette agreed that there was no malicious intent on Arvidsson’s part.

“I don’t think there was intent there to maliciously cross-check,” Bylsma said. “They kind of lose the puck, turn and his stick is right at that level and delivers a blow. When you look at it, it’s a pretty stiff cross-check to Carlo’s neck.”

“It was tough for Arvidsson,” said Laviolette. “I don’t think he had any bad intentions. He just ran into somebody and the stick got caught a little bit high, but just a tough turn of events.”

The Sabres defenseman left the game and was treated at a nearby hospital, but there is some good news to report.

According to the Buffalo News, Colaiacovo was released from hospital and he was able to travel to Detroit with his teammates.

It’s unclear how long he’ll be out.

Start the Carr: Habs recall another player from the minors

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There’s been a lot of movement between Montreal and Saint John’s lately and that continued on Sunday.

This time, it’s forward Daniel Carr who’ll be getting a stint with the big club.

Carr has no prior NHL experience.

The 24-year-old spent four years at Union College before joining the Canadiens organization as an undrafted free agent.

In his first season as a pro, Carr scored 24 goals (led the team) and 39 points in 76 AHL games with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2014-15.

This year, Carr has seven goals and 15 points in 20 games.

Montreal is without forwards Torrey Mitchell, Brendan Gallagher and Alexander Semin.

Campbell’s perfect snipe sinks Wings in OT


Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.

It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.

Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.

The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.

Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.

They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.

With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

Garett Sparks
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You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.