Forbes.com named “America’s Best Sports Teams” (yet included the Montreal Canadiens … although I guess they wear something resembling America’s colors) and four NHL teams made the list.
These lists are often flawed because they tend to ignore history (opening the door for dreaded “bandwagon” teams). Really, judging from their write-up regarding the list’s criteria, a more accurate headline would probably be “North America’s Most Relatively Profitable Teams.” But I digress …
To produce a list of the best fans in U.S. sports, we looked at every team in the “Big Four” U.S. professional sports leagues: football (NFL), basketball (NBA), baseball (MLB), and hockey (NHL).
For each team, we gathered three different metrics. First, we measured their home and away game attendance, which indicates a team’s drawing power in its home market and nationwide. Then we counted their merchandise sales (Numbers for the NFL, NBA and MLB were provided to us by Sportsonesource, a sporting good industry analyst, and the NHL gave us their own data). Finally, we ranked each team’s in-market popularity, based on surveys of American sports teams by Turnkey Sports and Entertainment. We ranked all of the teams, then took the top four from each of the four leagues.
Here are the four NHL teams who made it, building toward the highest ranked club.
16. Chicago Blackhawks
Just another bit of evidence that the team made gigantic strides from the “Dollar Bill” Wirtz days. Sure, the team might still be in the “red” but I wonder if that’s more about the losses they endured in the bad days than what they’ve managed to do in recent years. The question, is, though: will they rank so highly if the team does falter?
11. Montreal Canadiens
The “American” thing confuses me. Was this an oversight by the author or just a headline writing snafu? Either way, Montreal features one of sports’ most devoted groups of fans. Just like every Canadian NHL team, though. Hmph.
6. Pittsburgh Penguins
Basically the Blackhawks, but a year or two in the future. It’s kind of surprising their rivals in D.C. didn’t make the list, though.
3. Detroit Red Wings
Hard to argue with the Red Wings being on this list (braces for “But they don’t always sell out all of their playoff games”-type comments). Things are rough in the city of Detroit, but the Red Wings are a saving grace for the hard-luck region. Hopefully GM Ken Holland can keep the team in “Hockeytown” strong.
If you’re wondering who made it in front of the Red Wings, it was the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 2) and MLB’s Boston Red Sox (No. 1). These lists are engineered for debates, so I’ll play the game: are those the four teams who represent the four most devoted fan bases in the NHL? Should the Red Wings/highest ranked NHL team come in higher than No. 3? Share your thoughts in the comments.