The worst franchise evar plays here. (Pic by Sumanch)

I know I’m not supposed to do this. I’m not supposed to let some arbitrary list created by random fan opinions bug me enough to write about it, therefore getting said list more pageviews, and more credibility.

But this list is terrible, and according to ESPN, represents the views of hockey fans. Why it’s terrible, specifically, is that it doesn’t. At all.

The poll results show the Toronto Maple Leafs as the current worst franchise in sports. As in, fans of the Leafs are having the worst experience of any team in any major sport. Get lost with that. (We’re in the clear, Isles fans!)

The main problem from where I’m sitting is in defining the metrics of “what do fans want in return for their time, money, and emotional investment?” (Fans were asked to choose from 25 options – I blame ESPN for not creating the right ones if these are what they were left with). Here’s what they decided were the most important issues:

First problem: having both a “bang for buck,” category, and an “affordability” one puts an awful lot of weight on money, which allows the Phoenix Coyotes – still a cheap ticket on the most expensive of nights – to end up being the highest rated NHL team, and be labelled the 6th best franchise in sports.

How do you create an “Ultimate Franchise List,” see that result, and not go “okay, crap, we really need to redefine our parameters here?”

Next problem: Ownership. Yes it matters, so cool, go ahead have that be a category, I agree. But who in god’s name was voting on what’s “good ownership?” The Phoenix Coyotes are ranked 100th out of 122 major sports teams, and the League is running their team while they flounder after yet another owner who’s emptying old change jars to get the sale done. They’re ahead of 22 teams. They’re 12 spots ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs. What?

What’s with the definition of what qualifies as good ownership? “Honesty and loyalty to the players and the core community?” The Leafs could have Voldemort as a team owner (they essentially do). Bell/Rogers shareholders could come down to the dressing room and beat the players after every practice, then cut a few players to the AHL. They could set fire to local small businesses, and they’d still deserve a higher grade than the Coyotes because they have owners. They have stability. They’re willing to spend to the salary cap. And that situation is somehow worse than bankruptcy and a three-years-in-the-works purchase process?

Hell, as an Islanders fan I consider my situation better than the Coyotes, and our owner is generally loathed by the fanbase (Isles were ranked 119 out of 122 in ownership). I get that “the League owns the Coyotes” right now (and that’s stable!), but good lord – calling that a better situation than what the Leafs have is just nonsense.

Excuse me for picking on the Coyotes a bit here (I’m a bit baffled by it all), but even their fans know they’re not a “better” franchise than the Leafs. The Leafs have on-ice issues and do great off the ice; the Coyotes are hoping to stay in town. The Ultimate Franchise!

And speaking of Coyotes fans, most people are aware there aren’t a lot of them. That isn’t to say they don’t exist, but they’ve finished last in attendance repeatedly over the past decade, and their stadium experience is ranked 37th out of 122. Yet the Leafs, who sell out every game and could fill two buildings, are 104th out of 122…because the hot dogs are more expensive (that’s it isn’t it – this is a third category that focuses on price)?

Say what you want about the lower bowl at a Leafs game – it’s obviously not a raucous environment or anything, but the building is full. I didn’t think the crowd was bad at all during my couple visits this past season. If you go to a packed Coyotes game, it’s a 50/50 split between who the crowd is rooting for.

And while Arena is great (holy hell is it great, by the way), the ACC is freaking pristine too. People love the Real Sports bar just out the front door. Anything you want to get is offered at that game.

And while I’m railing on missed rankings, The Centre Bell is the 74th best stadium experience out of 122? There are 16 better NHL stadium experiences than being at a game in Montreal? Zero hockey fans were polled for this. That has to be it. I mean, they’re wedged on the list between Dallas and Buffalo – that’s not even trying.

What might be even more confusing is the “Players” ranking, not because there is one, but because of how they define it – “effort on the field and likability off it.” Really, so “talent” doesn’t factor into this? People would rather watch David Moss than Phil Kessel because the latter is shy? I’m getting mad now, ESPN. The Coyotes were ranked 11th in this category, ahead of teams with total loser players like the Rangers, Penguins and Red Wings.

I’m not saying the Leafs have a likeable team – for the most part, they do not – I’m saying I can’t believe “nice guy” is worth more than “exciting,” or even “good.”

Here’s another big reason that poll is worthless:

I’m a fan of the New York Islanders and I root for the Phoenix Coyotes. I like the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets and the Phoenix Suns. (I have terrible taste in teams.)

But it’s more fun being a fan of the New York Jets than any of those teams, because they’re trying to win. They’ll pull the trigger on big free agents (leave your Tebow jokes at home, thanks). They’ll spend money, they want to compete, they try to win.

It is no fun rooting for a team that’s not trying their hardest (from an ownership standpoint), and just trying to stay afloat (though Coyotes fans have been treated to some pretty special runs lately, it still sucks being that close and knowing “If they’d just pay for a couple other guys they could put this group over the top“).  Why I have to deal with multiple disastrous ownerships (Wang, Wilpons and…Bettman?), I don’t know, but it doesn’t allow me to have one thing Leafs’ fans get: hope.

They know that if they can get a big player, they’ll do it. They know that if it ain’t working, they’ll change it. I think there’s great value in that, and that’s why calling the Coyotes ownership situation better than the Leafs is garbage. Fans in Toronto never know when things could suddenly turn around.

The most incredible thing about that list isn’t necessarily even the rankings, it’s what ESPN (or ESPN’s fans, apparently) think matters.

Below is the chart of how they weighted the fan experience. The players, coaching and “title track” your team is on is worth 24.2%. The affordability, bang for your buck, and fan relations is worth 59.2%. Somehow.

I realize this isn’t some in-depth doctoral thesis or anything, but if this is remotely close to what fans what, methinks some people need to attend more AHL games.

Comments (72)

  1. Laugh Nation… You’re still in denial!

    • Don’t believe his lies, I’m the real RSUFORLIFE, and I know better than to use terrible tired cliches like calling the Leafs the ‘Laughs’.

      What’s next? ’1967′? You couldn’t even come up with an original username, let alone a joke.

  2. Who gives a f*ck, really?

    • Come on Jimmy, mom taught us better than to swear anonymously on the internet, and how angry would dad be if he knew you were cursing on a page where there could be ladies present?

      One day you’ll get out of the basement and you’ll see that you can’t interact with real people like this. You should try it sometime, we’re all worried about you down there, all you do is sit at your computer, drinking Fanta and commenting on YouTube videos.

      Mom says she’ll make your favourite dinner, lamb and tuna fish, if you’d just come upstairs. Dad says he’ll even buy you a shiny new bike if you’d only come outside and meet some real people.

      We’re worried about you Jimmy.

  3. It has New Jersey #1 in W-L for the last 2 years. Blues #4. Neither made the playoffs the previous season. Vancouver, back to back Pres. trophy winners, were #8 (all numbers were nhl rank). That should tell you all you need to know about this list. The one area were there should be no opinion taken into account, they are way off base from actual fact.

    • I’m not sure where you’re from Colleen, and for real you sound kinda hot, but I gotta tell you, Jersey is #1 in EVERY POLL EVERYWHERE.

      If you want you can come visit, I’ll hook you up, take you to all the right tanning spots, and we can hit up all the clubs on the boardwalk, do it up nice.

      Then after I’m done DJ’ing we can go back to my spot and see where the night takes us.

  4. Prediction: this comment section is going to be a trainwreck. Keep it tidy, please.

    • Listen Justin Imma let you finish but I gotta say the 1974-75 Washington Capitals were the biggest trainwreck of all time! ALL TIME!

  5. Haha, like the line about seeing more AHL games. Gotta admit though, there’s a lot to be said for watching minor league games…I love going to a game and sitting against the glass for the price that I would be sitting against the back wall in the nosebleeds to see an NHL game. Not only that, but these guys are playing for their supper – and it can really show.

  6. Columbus Blue Jackets were ranked 28th in “Committed to the community and will not leave.” The Blue Jackets are locked into Columbus until 2039. They legally CAN’T leave for almost 30 years. If they are 28th, then holy crap is the NHL a stable league…

    • Listen Dorsett I drafted you back in 2006, and just because I sentenced you to a lifetime in Columbus doesn’t give you the right to disparage it like that.

      You shouldn’t be complaining that the Jackets can’t leave for 30 years because if it weren’t for Columbus having an NHL team you wouldn’t even be in this league, you don’t have the talent to be on any other team. Hell with my drafting record I should be happy you’re here at all.

  7. Only blind Leafs fans would really receive such poor treatment from their franchise for an entire decade and STILL sit there and write out entire articles defending their team from the “center of the hockey universe”. Weak. It’s like a drunk who keeps insisting they got it all under control. You only fool yourself, and it’s sad for the rest of us to watch.

    The tickets are unaffordable, the results are terrible, the players are largely unknown, and would be completely unknown if they were not playing in a market that is over saturated with sports media members struggling to come up with stories about the local team every night and who make it a trend of over hyping every sleeper 1st round draft pick they anoint as “the Next One”.

    And as far as being the center of the hockey universe: it’s a pretty rich claim considering how neglected the minor, junior and AHL teams are by the “die-hard” fan base in the GTA. The only people who attended the 2011 Memorial Cup was out-of-towners from other teams and media. I would figure the center of the hockey universe would pack the stands for the best of the best U20 tournament in the country for a fraction of the price of a team that hasn’t shown you an entertaining season in a decade. I would rather cheer for the Phoenix Coyotes than be a Leafs fan.

    • Did you ever read the article, or just feel like ripping Toronto?

      He’s barely defending the Leafs – it’s more an enditement of the ESPN poll.

      • Both to be honest, but when you pick apart a poll that is critiquing your team in the tone in which it is written with the title “The ESPN poll that labels the Toronto Maple Leafs the “worst franchise” is just terrible”, I’m not sure you could argue that he’s barely defending the Leafs.

        • Listen buddy, if you’re going to steal my catchphrase as a username, at least make a coherent argument. Clearly Justincredible Bourne is saying the poll is flawed not that the Leafs are amazing.

          Your argument is based on semantics and no that’s not an anti-virus even my hair knows that.

        • Good point, no journalism has ever used attention grabbing sensationalist headlines.

          • Fair enough. I stand by my statement. The Leafs and their fans are terrible. They are worthy of the basement of every poll. When I hear one talking junk about another team, it’s like seeing some chump standing at a bus stop trying to clown my car. Regardless of how crappy anyone’s car is, it’s still better than the bus. The Leafs are that bus.

    • Why you have to make sexual joke about me doing dirty thing in your name? That not mature.

      And why you be so angry about team? So we no win in long time? What you win? Where you play?

      If you no pay to see games, and you not fan, then why you complain about team? We no want you, go cheer for Jets like other bandwagoners.

      Real Toronto fan are good to players and give us support. You just jealous because I have new great wife in Elisha and you hang out with Jimmy in basement.

      • Just wanted to note that Mr. Phaneuf was in a golf-cart incident earlier today, that has inexplicably left the patient speaking with a quasi-Russian/French accent despite the fact he was born in Edmonton.

        We are prescribing plenty of rest, Elisha, and Fanta.

        • I no have accent, this how I learn to talk in cave.

          Also, why you ask me to pull down pants if head hurt?

    • SuckItPhaneuf… got it… you don’t like the Leafs… cool…

  8. Ugh, ESPN.

    Honestly, the only thing more annoying than how much my Leafs tickets cost is that my fan dollars go to keeping teams like the Yotes, CBJs and Panthers in locations where they hemorrhage money. It’s bad enough that I contribute to the mediocrity known as the Leafs, but via revenue sharing, I also contribute to the teams that beat them.

    It’s a cruel, cruel world.

    • I miss you Allie, remember all the fun we had back in the 80′s? Thank god you finally got me away from Charles. Remember all the hi-jinks we got into – You as a travel agent, me trying to find myself?

      But once we had the catering company it finally came together. Too bad nothing was ever the same once Bob and I got married.

      How’s Emma doing? Jennie asks about her ALL the time, we should really get together and have dinner. I was thinking maybe the at that hip new restaurant ‘The Why’?

      • WHOOSH. I was born when that series ended, bro.

        • Oh Allie, why do you have to hurt me with words.

          ‘Bro’? I can only hope you’re babysitting a 13-year old with father issues who’s gotten control of your account.

          Don’t worry though, one day he’ll grow up and learn how to use his ‘big-boy words’.

  9. The Leafs are terrible. They make the most money of any team in the NHL and are consistantly at the bottom of the standings.

    This is where they deserve to be on everyones list.


    • Please ignore my exclamation point addicted heir. Like all parents we thought it wasn’t a big deal when he started with the commas and the quotations.

      Next thing we knew he was into semi then full colons, and had moved onto dashes and their even more potent kin Em dashes.

      It makes us all sad to see how far Mike has fallen. His addiction has gotten so bad he now forgets to even capitalize his own name.

      Don’t let your kids fall prey to this terrible disease, make sure they know about safe grammar, and maybe this time, they won’t want to be like, nor end up, like Mike.

      • Consistently is one of the most consistently misspelled words on the internet. Perhaps the close resemblance in both spelling and definition to the word constantly is to blame.

  10. Regardless how good or bad the methodology is, there are some teams that could never be last, and some teams that have no chance of being near the top.

    If the average person would argue that the Leafs are closer to last than first, the owners should take that personally.

    • Listen jerk, just because you’re bigger and guys pay more attention to you and you get out of speeding tickets doesn’t mean you know anything about anything. I could get my own talk show too if I could afford the surgery.

      But who wants to look like that anyway? I’m surprised you don’t tip over every time you stand up.

      • I’m fairly certain B Cup Sports Silence was not talking to me, because I’ve no clue what (s)he’s talking about. It is more likely that (s)he didn’t realize that the reply button was directing to me and not to the author of the article or, to whomever the comments were directed.

        Although, I will say there is some intelligence at work here – notwithstanding the breathless lack of punctuation, the spelling is remarkably void of typical typos or grammatical errors.

        • You and your tight t-shirts have stolen your last boyfriend, sister.

          I am NOT going to let you patronize me with your accusations of ‘punctuation’ when we all know how you REALLY got your start in this business.

          We don’t even know if you’re all real. At least I can confidently say, they’re real and they’re spectacular.

  11. phoenix coyotes? get out of here with that garbage. NO ONE EVEN WANTS TO OWN THE TEAM. personally, i’d say Detroit is the top NHL team.

    • I know you think both the red wings and Crocs are clearly the bees knees, but how do you feel about Uggs?

      Are they garbage like the Coyotes, or somewhere in between like the Sharks?

      What kind of shoe do you think the Blackhawks are? Personally I’d say they’re Manolo Blahniks, flashy but still classic.

      Conversely, who are the Air Jordans? Inquiring minds want to know!

      • It seems to be one person having a slow work day… Pretty funny though, I’m enjoying it

        • Thank you for your interest ‘scribs’

          You can check us out online at

          Or Visit us in person at:
          327 Bloor St. West, in downtown Toronto.
          (The Museum is right at the southwest corner of Bloor Street West and St. George Street.)

          Our operating hours are:
          Monday 10:00am – 5:00pm
          Tuesday 10:00am – 5:00pm
          Wednesday 10:00am – 5:00pm
          Thursday 10:00am – 8:00pm
          Friday 10:00am – 5:00pm
          Saturday 10:00am – 5:00pm
          Sunday 12:00pm – 5:00pm

  12. There is some amazing trolling here, lovin it.

  13. Leafs will finish last in the Eastern Conference this season. Just don’t have what it takes to win.

    • Mr. Ford I’d be angry at you posting a comment here during your hearing if I wasn’t so damn surprised that you know how to use a computer at all!

      Despite your best attempts at appearing to be slower than a one legged turtle with vertigo your two sentence comment on this blog, while short and ridicule-worthy, have proved to me that you can at least preform basic, and I mean basic, human function.

      This is not to say that you are a human, far from it. However, you are definitely some type of sloth-human hybrid who seems to have lost the genetic code required for morals, sound-judgement, and to steal a line from former president Bill Clinton ‘basic arithmetic’.

  14. I’m pretty sure the only reason these results happened is because they had a whole bunch of people voting from the USA and not anyone voting from up here in the real hockey market who have experiences several years of consistency in the arenas such as ACC, The Bell Centre, or even Rogers Arena. And one question, how does the title talk only make up for 3.2% compared to Ownership + Coaching equaling 10.1%? That to me doesn’t make much sense either.

    • Why does everyone have to be so nationalistic? Mother Gaia wants us all to live in harmony. She made me blue with green hair so that I don’t look like anyone, but yet I am everyone.

      Although I’m not sure about this costume, why are my shoulders and upper chest protected but not my abs? What if I get shot in the stomach?

      Are Ma-Ti and his stupid little monkey going to save me? What good is a damn ‘heart’ ring of power if I don’t get shot in the heart. At least Kwame and Wheeler might be able to fight for the earth.

      Speaking of Wheeler is he related to Blake? I mean they are both American. Speaking of Americans, JeanPaul, I think you’re mistaken about the USA voting on this, everybody knows Americans hate voting.

  15. It’s kind of sad that this comment thread immediately degenerated into “Leafs Suck” versus “No they don’t, YOU suck”. Remember to read the article, even if your forehead gets all hot and your fingers get itchy after reading the headline

    • Hi scribs,

      As Team Doctor for the Maple Leafs, I can confidently say that if you feel a burning sensation in your forehead combined with itchy fingers you should go see a certified health professional RIGHT AWAY.

      According to my most trusted diagnosis tool, webMD, you could be suffering from a plethora of diseases, ranging from Influenza to Cat-Scratching Disease.

      For your sake, and the sake of those around you please get to a doctor.

  16. I agree with a lot of what you are saying. But the “Bang for your buck”type question u
    Is relevant. For crying out loud it costs so much money to see a Leaf’s game, & their fans haven’t got to watch their team in post season in a really long time. That has to count towards it in some way. But yes the way it was put together does seem out of whack.

    • GRIMEY! I’ve missed you, weird though, I thought you had died…wait…no…are you…ARE YOU A ZOMBIE?


      RIVERDALE? No way, we can’t go there Marge they hate me. We’ll head to Shelbyville then on to Capital City, I think I still have some friends there from my dancing Homer days.

  17. If you take a deeper look at the list its a joke.
    How can leafs be ranked 112 (Ownership (OWN): Honesty and loyalty to core players and local community.) That sounds like charity a bit. When John Micheal Liles was a nominee for the NHL foundation Award… and all the work Team-up does. Please MLSE made the most money for movember last year. Don`t forget `you can play`
    How can the raptors be 83 in Stadium Experience (STX): Quality of arena and game-day promotions as well as friendliness of environment but leafs 104… but sorry I take that one to heart.
    When the PHOENIX Coyotes are ranked the best NHL team you know this is a joke.
    And when teams like the Lakers and Yankees are so low you know this is a joke.
    Yea are tickets too much, yes
    Have they sucked for the last few years, yes
    But they have the most loyal fans… says nothing about season ticket holders… most in the nhl….
    ** side note ** ten years ago when they did this the Oilers and Sacramento Kings were in the top 10 but now they are in the bottom 10…. wtf?

    • Dude, I didn’t mean to hit ESPN I really didn’t. They just kind of came out of nowhere. There was this ball that bounced into the road then all of a sudden. BAM. I tried to stop but I couldn’t.

      Heck man, I thought I saw some stuff back in the war but nothing like this…nothing like this.

      • Don’t listen to his excuses, I was sitting up there, talking to him like I do every day for most of the day, you know, just sitting up in that front seat, TALKING away, like always, but that day he seemed kind of down and was drinking something from a paper bag? Maybe the war was on his mind, I asked him about it like every day but he doesn’t really talk a lot, unlike me, I can go ALL DAY…

  18. Best troll ever, and it’s not even close.

  19. Funny, If the Leafs didn’t have a salary cap or revenue sharing to deal with they would be in a better place. Let’s be honest no matter what side of the fence you are on, where there wasn’t a cap the Leafs had some of their most exciting years. How many Semis did they reach?

    Why not allow a team with the money to spend it? The Cap is the reason why the Leafs are making record money because they can’t spend it. They went from one of the highest payrolls in the NHL to have to trim it to be below the cap.

    Just the installation alone of the Cap made the Leafs almost 30 million a year in Revenue…..But you can’t blame the team for that. Sure they have been mismanged and that has caused the mess Burke has had a hell of a time fixing.

    But it is getting better, results will show shortly. ESPN write articles just because they need to fill their website and that is it.

  20. Bourne,

    If you really, really want some play (and you would deserve it), then I suggest taking on the monumental task of doing these rankings yourself, with better categories and MUCH truer ratings.

    You are right, these ratings are terrible! I’m a Leaf hater, but I still know their arena is amazing. I fully agree with you on ownership of the Yotes as well… a true joke.

    Anyway, I look forward to seeing YOUR rankings!

  21. What a worthless poll by ESPN. Good comments though, random guy with a 1000 usernames.

  22. *standing ovation to the legendary comments troll of the ESPN Leafs post*

  23. Welcome to the new NHL!!!

  24. Good deconstruction. But come on. An exercise where ESPN analyzes what makes a great hockey experience is like my 14 year old Rhianna-loving cousin doing reviews of Miles Davis records. This is the network that aired “the Decision”, FFS.

  25. OMG i’m having flashbacks of reading comments when you were writing on yahoo!

  26. you really think the leaf building is full every game? and that its a toss up who they cheer for in phonenix….news flash…in the lower bowl, its a toss up if they know what hockey is, and by the look of their jersey’s (suits) they cheer for money

  27. Thanks for sharing this post , I really a appropriate it and this information is very useful to me.

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