Yesterday afternoon, I opened my mailbox to find the latest edition of ESPN the Magazine waiting for me and what to my wondering eyes should appear? How about the 10th annual “Ultimate Teams Standings” with the New Jersey Devils listed as the top-ranked New Jersey-New York area sports team and third among NHL teams. Looks like Christmas came early!
The Devils are 13th overall in the magazine’s rankings of the 122 pro sports franchises. The ranking is derived from a list of eight of the following categories:
- Bang for the buck - “Wins during the past three years,” which includes ”regular season plus postseason per revenues directly from fans, adjusted for league schedules”
- Fan Relations – “Openness and consideration toward fans by players, coaches and management”
- Ownership (“Honesty and loyalty to core players and local community”), Affordability (“Price of tickets, parking and concessions”)
- Stadium Experience – “Quality of arena and game-day promotions as well as friendliness of environment”
- Players – “Effort on the field and likability off it” Yes, even without Zach Parise.
- Coaching – “Strength of on-field leadership”
- Title Track – “Championships already won or expected in the lifetime of current fans”
The Devils ranked all over the place in these categories. They came in 11th in Bang for the Buck, 12th in Fan Relations, 52nd in Ownership (Surprised it wasn’t lower), 51st in Affordability, 21st in Stadium Experience, 13th in Players (Martin Brodeur, Ilya Kovalchuk), 39th in coaching (Give Pete Deboer a couple more seasons) and 11th in Title Track.
The Devils made a remarkable jump from a year ago. Last season ESPN had them ranked 50th overall, but they still finished third in the NHL behind only Phoenix (sixth) and Tampa Bay (seventh) among the 30 NHL teams.
The Devils have always taken a back seat to all the other local teams in the New York-New Jersey area, but not in this case. The next closets team was the Giants, coming in at number 48. The rival Rangers followed in 63rd, then Yankees at 82, the Brooklyn Nets at 88, the New York Mets at 93, the New York Jets at 105, New York Knicks at 113 and the New York Islanders at 119.
(Insert cheap knock on the Islanders here)
So, who came in dead last at 122? The Toronto Maple Leafs–as if Leafs fans needed anything else to send them over the ledge.
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