Monday, September 5, 2011

Rating The Franchises- Elite 10

1) Originally we intended to list all 30 teams in one blog post but after compiling a paragraph or 2 for the 30 teams we felt it would be an easier read if we were to break up the 1 long post into 3 more compact entries. As was mentioned recently by FAUXRUMORS, there is little occurring these days. However thankfully very shortly the dog days are about to end. Training camp is just in sight! We decided it would be fun/entertaining/thought-and discussion provoking to once again list who we believe are the best organizations. Our list is made from a non-fan's/outsider perspective. We feel that it is unburdened by the biases and emotional attachment that almost all fans have for their team.

2) We rated them into 3 categories [Top] [Middle] and [Bottom] using admittedly subjective view points. Many teams change positions change from year to year, but usually the overall health (or lack there of) isn't too fluid. 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 recent past

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. Some teams are now quite unstable, some more so than before.

City Intangibles- Some places are just better cities to live, and some arenas are electric, while others are dead regardless of their teams' success.

Competence of Management (coaches/GM/scouting/ownership)- Needless to say this is important for overall on-ice success.

3 ) We also want to make it clear that placement on these lists are fluid. That is, many teams shift positions from year to year. We will try to mention where we had teams last time we did this list in 2008. Anyway without further verbiage, here is our list Broken into the 'Top 10' Middle Ten should be published in a couple of days and finally the 'Bottom Ten' after that. All the lists are in alphabetical order.

Top 10:

  • Boston: When we last did this list the B's were just coming out of the bottom 10. The Jacobs' and the bad ole days of Harry Sinden have given way to Peter Chiarelli's management and less ownership meddling. It resulted in the franchises 1st Cup in 30 years. The area also rivals Minnesota for best US based hockey interest. As much as fans don't/didn't like Claude Julian there is no denying his patience/calmness in the face of the Canucks attempt to instigate them was a deciding factor in last year's Finals. On ice talent remains strong and the B's should stay in contention for years to come. Nice turn around.

  • Chicago: Likewise what we wrote about Boston with respect to a team/franchise turn around. Here it took the death of William Wirtz to turn things around. Along with Scotty/Stan Bowman in upper management the Hawks have a solid foundation of ownership, management, coaching and on ice talent. This should help to keep Chicago in the Cup mix for many years to come. With the new ownership/antagonism towards fans, the United Center is now a hard ticket to come by. A nice story.

  • Detroit: "Hockey Town" for a reason. Despite the citie's and area's awful economy the Red Wings continue to churn out quality annually. It starts from the top where
  • Mike (Pizza, Pizza!) Ilitch, and GM Ken Holland keep the team well stocked with talent and coach Mike Babcock gets the most from that talent. Perennially a Cup favorite even with the retirements of several big names. Each year we expect to see them slip and they stay right at the top anyway. That said we feel the franchise is finally at a cross roads and it will take effort to re-tool the team if they are to stay in the top tier after this upcoming season

  • Montreal: Were a team on the top 10 'bubble' this year. Could have been in the middle tier. Now owned by beer magnet Andrew Molson the team is quite solid there. Jury still out on GM Pierre Gauthier. We're also not Jack Martin coaching fans, but we have to admit he's gotten more out of his roster than many expected. Perennially the team with the best attendance in the league and no denying that their fans are as rabid as they come. Unfortunatly sometimes to their detriment when they burn downtown, but all in all one of the best supported teams with a long storied history.

  • Philadelphia: Whether or not you're fans of their in your face style, you have to admit its exciting to watch. They also have one of the most loyal fan bases in the US. Whether they are winning or not they still fill their arena. Although they haven't won a Cup in almost 30 years they still have one of the strongest rosters and farm systems in the NHL. Run first rate from the top in owner Ed Snider who demands results, to GM Paul Holmgren who appears to do whats necessary to improve his team, to one of the best US born coaches in league history in Peter Laviolette. The Flyers shuld stay in contention if not among the elite in the league for the next few seasons, and with their strong farm system, possibly beyond

  • Pittsburgh: What was once a clear bottom 10 team is now a perennial top 10. A very nice story where the new arena, solid ownership headed by Mario Lemieux, an excellent GM in Ray Shero, and one of the top coaches in the game in Dan Bylsma have transformed what was a teetering franchise about to be relocated to a perennial Cup contender. An apathetic fan base has been rejuvenated into a rabid fan base that sells out all homes games. Amazing what winning the Crosby sweepstakes can do to turn a franchise around!

  • San Jose: Some might quibble that the Shark have yet to win the big trophy but several factors led us to include them in the Top 10. Almost always play before a packed house in HP Pavillion, the denizens of Silicon Valley have maintained a high level of play for years. They have failed to yet reach the ultimate goal of a Cup, but not for lack of effort by Doug Wilson and coach Todd McLellan. Wilson especially has never stood pat and tried to improve his team every year. Certainly fans can't find fault in their franchises effort to bring home the big prize. We think they will stay among the league elite at least for the next few seasons

  • Tampa Bay: Like Pittsburgh and Chicago, have really turned things around in a hurry. It started when Jeff Vinik bought the team which gave the franchise the financial stability it was missing for the previous decade. Then the next biggest positive move was when they hired Steve Yzerman and they got instant credibility. From there 'Stevie Y' hired himself Guy Boucher, an unknown/young AHL/junior phenom coach who helped transform the team in a hurry. Their roster is solid and they should compete for a playoff spot for the foreseeable future. Their attendance could be better, and if we don't see them in the top 10 next season it could drop them from the Top Tier in next year's evaluation

  • Vancouver: The Cup runners up have been one of the best franchises for the past several years. Assembling a top roster of talent. In the front office, Francesco Aquilini and his brothers are solid behind the scene type owners allowing GM Mike Gillis to care for the hockey side of operations which he has done quite well since taking over from Dave Nonis in 2008. Like most teams up north the Canucks have little trouble selling out GM Place. We might not be big fans of their team, but we can't diminish that they are one of the top 10 franchises in the NHL today and should continue to be for the next couple of years

  • Washington: Another rags to riches story. While ownership under Ted Leonsis has been pretty stable for 15 years now, it wasn't until 2002 or 2003 that both he and GM George McPhee seemed to finally 'get it' and realize there are no quick fixes to building a contending team. With the slow rebuild also came a rebirth of fan support to now where ALL games are sold out. With a healthy pipe line of young talent it appears the Caps should be strong for years to come. It does remain to be seen if Bruce Boudreau is the man to get them to the 'next level'. Also remains to be seen if fans stick around if they continue to fail when the games count most

  • 1 comment:

    FAUX RUMORS said...

    Nice job FR2! As always an interesting read. I guess we should expect to see the other 2 installments later this week?

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