Friday, August 3, 2007

Rating the Franchises

1) As was mentioned this past weekend by FAUXRUMORS, there is little occurring these days. The dog days for NHL fans, indeed! WE decided it would be fun/entertaining/thought-and discussion provoking to list who we believe are the best organizations. Rate them 1-30 using admittedly subjective view points. Our ratings will be made based upon:

  • On ice success- Not necessarily numbers of Cups, but a combination of regular season AND playoff success over the past decade or so

  • Fan support- Especially recently we have seen some teams enjoy great on ice success and play before half empty arenas. While we also see(especially in Canada) teams sell out despite poor records

  • Ownership stability- This seems to be the key for most successful teams. Success starts from the top and trickles to all areas

  • City Intangibles- Some places(and we've visited all but Dallas last year) are just better cities to live and some arenas are electric, while others are dead

  • Competence of coaches/GM- Needless to say this is important for overall on-ice success

2) When we started compiling the list it hit us that on ice success is NOT the most/only important factor here. In fact the last 3 cup winners are NOT in our top 10! Go figure. Anyway without further verbiage, here is our list Broken into the 'Top 10' Middle Ten, and 'Bottom Ten' in alphabetical order

3) The Top 10:

  • Buffalo- Not long ago this once bankrupt team would have placed in the 'Bottom 10.' However, once the team was purchased by Tom Golisano, it became rock solid financially. Darcy Regeir has been one of the better GM's in the league(his mistakes this spring not withstanding). The fan support has been impressive in the relatively impoverished western NY city.
  • Calgary- Like all of the Canadian teams, the Flames enjoy strong fan support. With the excellent job GM/former coach Daryl Sutter has provided the team originally from Atlanta is one of the best 'small market' NHL teams with an impressive array of stars, and despite being relatively far north is an attractive city for players to come/live.

  • Colorado- Formerly the Nordiques of Quebec City, the squad from Denver has been one of the best franchises in the NHL the past decade. Starting with good drafting back in Quebec, to nice trades. Most notably the Roy deal in 1996. Still one of the most difficult seats to come by, the team after an excellent off season is poised to return to the top echelon of the NHL.
  • Dallas- Owner Tom Hicks has allowed his management team to assemble quality without too much meddling(Unlike his Texas Rangers mess). The team has a Cup in 1999. Has strong fan support even in the ice-unfriendly mid Texas environs.

  • Detroit- Its not called "Hockey Town" for nothing. Despite much published non sell outs(which were unheard of until this year) the team remains a hot ticket, even in economically depressed Michigan. The Wings have taken home 3 Cups in the last decade. Many thought the team would suffer with the salary cap. So far they haven't, with top finishes in their conference the past 2 years.
  • Minnesota- The Wild, despite being a relatively new NHL team(2000-01) are a huge success. In hockey crazy Minnesota the Wild are a very tough seat to find. The team has had mild/moderate on ice success, but their management team led by former Habs Doug Risebrough and Jacques Lemaire have this team poised in the right direction

  • New Jersey- Clearly one of the most successful organizations from top to bottom in the past 12+ years. A perennial Cup contender, with 3 Cups since 1995. Lou Lamarello is one of the top hockey executives of his generation. The negatives would be fan support. Despite the record, the team continues to struggle at the gate. Hopefully for them a new arena(In Newark of all places) helps that out.

    Ottawa- Right on the cusp of getting into the top 10. A lot many near misses. Have been a power in the regular season only until this year. If it were not for their mediocre goaltending(that appears to not be changing) they would probably be a real Cup threat. Even with that, they are formidable team and appear to have rebounded from their near bankruptcy of a few years ago. A nice city, we'd recommend visiting.

  • Philadelphia- No Cups in the city of Brotherly Love since 1975, but plenty of near misses since. One of the best U.S markets. Last season, despite being one of the worst teams, they still drew extremely well. Their ownership is very motivated to put out a quality product. The team seems poised for a rebound with a revamped squad, with as always, questions about their goaltending. Still, the Flyers are one of the best NHL franchises
  • San Jose- Another expansion success story. The big prize has so far alluded this team from California, but that might soon change. They have a bevy of young stars ready to step up. Fan support in Silicon valley has never been a problem in the Shark Tank!

4) The middle 10:

  • Anaheim-Yes, amazingly enough the Cup champs didn't crack the top 10! If they continue their rise, they probably will be there next year this time, but for now there in the middle 10. If we did this ratings 2 years ago the Ducks might have been in the 'Bottom 10!' However, they have new, apparent solid ownership, and Burke is one of the better GM's out there, so the team is in good hands going forward.This year was NO fluke!
  • Edmonton- The Oilers may have been in the 'Top 10' if we did this last year, but the last 12 months have been a year from hell with the Pronger/Smyth departures and RFA nonsense. Putting Lowe into a corner forcing him to make silly proclamations/RFA offers. Still they are a great draw in Edmonton, and despite press to the contrary it remains a great place to play. The Oilers will be back.

  • Montreal- The Habs have been going through hard times(for them) No Cups in 14 years is uncharted territory for this storied franchise. Still, they are in good hands with Bob Gainey at the helm, and as always the fans always sell out the arena.

  • Nashville- Another franchise that has taken a tumble out of a top 10 position. Mainly due to ownership instability. This has trickled down into a mandated sell off of talent. The jury is still out whether the team is doomed to move or can resolidify into a Cup contender. Right now, it can go either way

    New York Rangers- Despite playoffless years and over spending the Rangers are one of the more valuable NHL franchises. Being in the top U.S market, playing in The World's Greatest Arena" certainly helps. Seems the new CBA, which forced them to spend more wisely, has actually helped them to become more competitive and look more long term with their moves.

  • Pittsburgh- Appear poised to a return to glory after a very dark period where their very existence was in doubt. With a new arena set for 2010, and the best stable of young talent in the NHL, led by Superstar Sid Crosby, the Pens are but one piece away from a Cup, a good goalie.

  • St. Louis- Another team that would have been in our bottom 10 2 years ago. Since John(JD)Davidson took over and new stable owners have taken over the franchise appears ready to resume playoff viability. Though they are still a couple of seasons away from being a Cup contender. A traditionally well supported team in a good sports city
  • Toronto- Amazingly, the Leafs are now into their 41 st Cup-less year. A stinging reminder their detractors love to bring up. Still, that can't erase the fact that this IS the premiere money making franchise in the NHL. Led by the 'Leaf Nation' no other team has the same kind of large, rabid following as do the Leafs. Unfortunately, they are merely a mediocre squad, and don't yet appear to be ready to take the next step up.

  • Tampa Bay- A definite expansion success. Despite clamoring from up north that hockey shouldn't be in Florida, it has shown to be very viable in the Florida Bay area. They have a Cup in their resume, and excellent fan support that their cross state rivals would love to have.
  • Vancouver- One of the most beautiful cities we visited last fall. Seems to be a great place to play. Great and loyal fan base. Nice arena, etc. However the team has yet to put it all together on the ice. They have one of the best goalies in Luongo so they will be playoff contenders, but don't possess enough depth to challenge the Western powers. Hopefully they will stop the seemingly annual uniform changes! LOL
    5) The Bottom 10:

    • Atlanta- Yes, they made the playoff for their first time, but big problems remain. Fan interest even with the team emerging has been tepid at best. We have little faith in GM Don Waddel, and ownership is unsteady. If they fail to get back into the post season rumblings of a move(again) from Atlanta are possible. Its just NOT a good sports city.

    • Boston- If ever there was an example of poor ownership hurting a team its here and of course Chicago. Jeremy Jacobs has been a tight wad hands on poor owner and has resulted in a 35+ year drought that has no appearance of ending. Seems this team has a new #1 goalie every year. Stupid trades(Thorton) haunt this one proud successful franchise. Its too bad, its a great sports city.
    • Carolina- Yes, despite being only a year removed from a championship the 'Canes are NOT a great franchise. Mostly due to their location. Despite success on the ice, the team still struggles at the gate and are a mere blip on the local media's radar. Like Atlanta, we shudder at what will/would happen if they fell on hard times. They should have stayed in Hartford!

    • Chicago- (See Boston) Its no wonder this team hasn't won since JFK was a president not an airport. Wirtz is even worse than Jacobs in his utter incompetence/neglect/ruination of an original six team. Despite recent moves, we don't see this changing any time soon.
    • Columbus- Things may be changing, but until they do, we have to keep this team in the 'Bottom 10.' Ridding themselves of incompetent McClean was the biggest positive move in Ohio's biggest city. They now seem poised for improvement, which would be great for their loyal fans who turn out despite never even sniffing a playoff spot in their 7 years.
    • Florida- The Panthers could only hope to mirror the success/support their cross state rivals garner. Despite early success(their 1996 trip to the Finals) this franchise has been anything but stable. The low point was the Keenan tenure, and they are still reeling from his awful moves. Most notably alienating then shipping off super star goalie Roberto Luongo for very little. When one looks at team that should relocate, this on the top of our list!
    • LA- OK, we believe they may be turning a corner, but like the Columbus, we want to see before we elevate them above the 'Bottom 10'. They have a good stable of talented youngsters with Kopitar and Cammalleri. If they figure out Cloutier sucks and is not the answer in goal, they may become a playoff contender.
    • NY Islanders-Sorry Isles fans, your team despite their unexpected playoff run last year remain at or near the bottom in our franchise ratings Why? No playoff series wins in going on 15 years for starters. Unstable ownership. Wang is rich but NOT stable! An inexperienced GM with questionable power to make moves, and a dearth of top prospects. Add to that they play in the 2nd worst arena we visited last year (Pitt far worse!) and many fans have understandably deserted them. This franchise has a lot of work to do to turn things around! We hope to see it happen in our life time!

    • Phoenix- Carolina of the west, without the on-ice success. They moved from a good market(Winnipeg) for what was thought to be a more lucrative market and thus far it has been a royal bust! Whats worse, they don't appear to be moving in a positive direction. Gretzky needs to step back and away from the team. His presence has not helped, and probably hurt. The 'hockey in the desert' experiment is a failure Gary. Time to go back north!

    • Washington- May be on the cusp of escaping the 'Bottom 10'. George McPhee and owner Ted Leonsis have stuck to their 'rebuild' plan of the past 4 years, and amazingly, it appears to be working. This next season will be a water shed year as expectations are now high in DC. If they become playoff contenders, it remains to be seen if the fans respond/return. They once had great support. Time will tell as they say. The pressure is now on!
    6) We're sure this list will provide plenty of fodder for discussion. Unfortunately we at The FAUXRUMORS Group, LLC will not be able to respond for at least the next 8 days while we are away for our Italian adventure. Infact final prep/editing for this post came via our laptop while awaiting boarding our first of 2 flights. We made promises to our spouses to not open them again once we arrive (we'll see LOL ) Next stop, Milan. Look forward to being back in about 10 days! Ciao!


    Jibblescribbits said...

    Pretty solid. My only contention is your comments on Phoenix. I thought the fan support there was pretty good. They were coming out and popular when they made the playoffs.

    It's tough to judge fan support in cities that have losing teams, and have for decades. Is it savvy fans who won't pay to watch a garbage team, or a general disinterest in the sport.

    I think the jury's still out on Phoenix, and will be until they start having some on-ice success. (not that they don't deserve bottom-10 for franchise, but I wouldn't attribute that to the locals, but more management)

    Jibblescribbits said...

    P.S. Have a good Italian vacation. If you are near Florence, try and make trek up to the Cinque Terre on the west coast of Italy. Really beautiful hillside ocean towns.

    The Dark Ranger said...

    Though the LLC put a lot of work into this synopsis (and believe me...I read it) -- it leaves so much open and historically you cannot categorize a team as every roster changes so frequently season to season.

    The league has changed dramatically, players, coaches, management every couple of years -- the fan base is probably the most consistent factor in all of this and a list of 'power of the home fans' team list would be more accurate..

    A good example is the Philly Flyers. From last season to this upcoming season (and we don't know yet), they on paper went from a horrible franchise to perhaps one of the division contenders and a playoff-sure-thing. "Z" to "A or B"? But those FANS are Top Two in the league.

    The last decade in the NHL is one of change. (and I mostly disagree with this entire analysis because my God-Da$n Rangers are in the middle. Bastards! ;) )


    Jintzie said...

    Looks like faux has a new friend. hey there buddy, My wife Theresa and I met up with the Faux crew last week in Italy. I know for a fact that they don't touch down from Milan until this afternoon. I'm sure they will get a kick out of your notes. Looks like Lloyd had you pegged afterall!

    Jintzie said...

    Son, you need to get a life as the kids say today. I can tell you that Faux has not been on this site since they left. It was a running joke over there that they were missing this trade or that trade.
    I'm sure once they land this afternoon and get settled they will respond if they see fit to what your saying. In the mean time my friend, please find another past time than to clutter up this site with your nonsense said...

    Again, another blogger mocking the New York Islanders and our ownership. Let me try and at least defend Mr. Wang.

    All the Islanders/Wang have ever, ever done is welcome players with open arms....hell, they even fired a now Stanley Cup winning coach due to player complaints. They've given players trades when they wanted them. He bought a PLANE for the team. Had the players bring their FATHERS on a road trip (this isn't like throwing a few tix on a Tuesday night game in October against Phoenix, he put them up for a week). Gave the fans a promotion EVERY home game back in what, 2003? EVERY GAME. Bobbleheads, banners, sticks, you name it....

    We've brought in players who NO ONE else wanted and saw them prosper after playing here.....He KEPT a STIFF like Yashin easily 2-3 years longer than he should of. He gave us a goalie for life in Dipietro. He brought back Mike Bossy. Kept Milbury after he left as GM and offered him a business opportunity outside the rink. He gave Garth a chance to become more than just a goalie and I'd argue he's held his own so far (no worse than that idiot in Edmonton that gave up 3 picks for 45 points. Brought back Ted Nolan who was basically blackballed from the NHL after winning the Jack Adams award. Bought another minor league team about 30 minutes by ferry from the Islanders to help with synergy between the clubs.

    FAUXRUMORS said...

    1)Lombardi, we're not certain if your post is sarcastic or strait? It has little bits of both
    2) We seldomly take undeserved shots at a team. Very few would say the Isles have been a model franchise the last 10-15 years. 3) We don't care what the owner spends on give aways. Until they can at least win a playoff round(Its going on 15 years) they will be in the bottom 1/3 of franchises

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