1) Here is the Second Installment of our comprehensive "Rating The Franchises Post. Here we have the middle teams. Teams that are not among the elite in the NHL, but not the 'dregs either. Some are close to one or the other or have recently moved up or down. To review the list is based upon:
•On ice success
•Competence of Management (coaches/GM/scouting/ownership)
2) Middle 10:
- Anaheim: The Ducks (No longer 'Mighty' in name or deed) now owned by billionaire Henry Samueli is fairly stable ownershipwise following the SEC issues he faced a couple of years ago. Bob Murray with contract extension in hand appears to be not going anywhere despite his team's slow decent from Cup contender to playoff bubble team. The team is generally well supported by their fans and has a decent shot at making the post season in the tough West
- Buffalo: The team could conceivably be in the top 10 by next season. Big changes from a couple of years ago before Terry Pegula bought the team and re-stabilized the team financially from absentee owner, and perennial gubernatorial candidate Tom Galisano. GM. Allowing Darcy Regier money to spend to try to improve the team. Along with long time coach Lindy Ruff who remains in place giving the team, which is usually well supported, a solid foundation. On the ice they appear poised to challenge for a spot in the competitive East.
- Calgary: Once were a solid Top 10 team, but instability with management/coaches as well as an aging declining roster have placed the team into our second tier of franchises. Despite the passing of long time owner Harley Hotchkiss the team is quite stable financially. They are almost always playing to sold out fans at Pengrowth Saddledome. However former GM Darryl Sutter had a few bad years of drafting/trades that cost him his job. new GM Feaster retained Sutters brother Brent(a mistake in my opinion) and the teams aging forwards make them a playoff bubble team at best
- Carolina: From an ownership/upper management perspective the 'Canes are a well run franchise. Owner Peter Karmonos allows long time GM Jim Rutherford to make all decisions about his team. One can't quibble to much with his record. However the combined issues of missing the post season 4 of the 5 years since their last Cup run in 2006 and the team still not appearing good enough to make a huge challenge next season drops them into our middle tier. Fan support is marginally OK, but could use improvement.
- Colorado: A team that appears on the rise after a precipitous fall. Once a solid top 10 team but on ice failure coupled with far less fan support has drooped them into our middle category. Ownership led by billionaire Stanley "Stan" Kroenke remains very stable despite the team now being in the name of his son Josh (to make his ownership in the NFL possible) GM Greg Sherman we feel has none a nice job in turning around his teams' fortunes through the draft/good trades. It remains to be seen if they are quite ready for prime time, but it appears better days are ahead in Mile High
- Edmonton: The Oliers appear to be headed in the right direction once again. Once a top 10 franchise they had a few tough seasons. That said, they are financially stable with billionaire drug dealer Daryl Katz quietly owning/running the team. Although a deal for a new arena have hit a snag it will get done sooner or later. Rexall Place is always filled regardless. Steve Tambellini appears to be doing a decent job in resurrecting the franchise after Lowe had a few bad seasons at the helm. On the ice they have several young hot prospects who might not quite be ready to lead the Oil back to the post season, but they won't be the pushovers they've been in recent seasons
- Los Angeles: A team on the precipice of the top 10. Haven't quite had the on ice success, but that might be coming soon. At the top, Philip Anschutz is no Bruce McNall, and is a hands off solid owner. Dean Lombardi has done a pretty good job in amassing talent. They certainly look like a playoff team, but it remains to be seen if they are ready to compete for The Cup. As far as fan support they played before a 99.8% capacity last season. Hard to quibble with that especially how LA fans are usually capricious in their support of their teams
- Minnesota: A bit of a disappointment that they are still mired in the middle of the pack. As a franchise they have solid fan support annually, stable ownership led by Craig Leipold. The jury remains out with respect to GM Chuck Fletcher. Not sure how much he's improved the team the past couple of seasons. Behind the bench this season Mike Yeo, who is now the youngest coach in the NHL at 37 years old will be entering his first season as a NHL bench boss. Can he do what others before him failed to do; Win a couple of playoff rounds? Actually can the Wild even make the post season?
- Nashville: A team that once was close to moving into the bottom 10 when their ownership was unstable (see Boots Delbiaggio). However since that low point a few years ago they have local investors who intend to keep the team in The Music City. In GM David Poile and Head coach Barry Trotz one couldn't ask for a better team of front office personnel. Trotz annually gets everything possible from his roster. Polie just keeps drafting well and putting a competitive team out there for Trotz despite not spending to the cap. What keeps them from the top 10 is the lack of getting to the next level on the ice and decent, but tepid fan support. Howver it should be noted that Bridgestone Arena was 94% filled this past season
- NY Rangers: A team that should be in the top 10, but a general lack of post season success has hindered them. No team in the U.S. is more profitable and playing in "The World's Most Famous Arena"(Madison Square Garden) in the middle of the world's financial capital doesn't hurt. Glenn Sather, although the GM for the past 11 seasons (wow!), appears to finally be getting the hang of the job. Spending much more wisely. John Tortorella is the winningest US born coach and is a good motivator (and agitator) of his troops. If they can finally win a couple of playoff series we would place them into the top 10 next time around.