Looking at the Detroit Red Wings recent overall ESPN ranking among all major sports teams in North America, Hockeytown fans are likely to be at least a little disappointed. Ranking 30th among all teams might be OK for some franchises, but the Red Wings have built a rabidly proud fan base that seeks to not only be the best in their own league, but recognized as one of the premiere sports franchises in all of the USA and Canada.
Where the Red Wings fans can hang their hat on, however, is their high scores in current titles + expected future titles (ranked 7th) as well as faith in the Red Wings brass to make the best decisions for the team (ranked 2nd). It is remarkable how faithful the Wings fan base is to GM Ken Holland and the front office, even in an offseason where Detroit has failed to land a major free agent and the NHL looks to head to its third lockout within two decades.
Some notable other rankings were the involvement of the players in the local community (ranked 5th) and leadership / coaching on the field (ranked 13th). It is no secret in Detroit that the Red Wings players are highly involved in more than just commercials. Players are seen at local schools, charity events, and grocery markets doing their part to melt into the community. For loyalty and leadership we look no further than the last two captains of the Red Wings, both of which played their entire careers for one team. A combination of these captains and solid coaching from one of the game’s best, Mike Babcock, have also lead to a solid ranking for on-field leadership.
What brought the Wings down the overall rankings were categories such as “bank for buck” (ticket prices / wins) and comfort / enjoyability of the home arena (ranked 103). The Red Wings almost always pay their players straight to the cap and the last few years have not been championship seasons. High prices and fewer wins have therefore hurt this ranking. In addition, a new stadium for the Red Wings in downtown Detroit has been in discussion for many years, as Joe Louis Arena has been showing signs of aging. There will always be those to argue against the change; that the small, uncomfortable seats and smelly restrooms add to a great atmosphere, but others debate that the best franchise in the NHL deserves one of the best ice arenas. It is likely only a short matter of time until the Red Wings will be moving into a new home.
No matter the rankings, Red Wings fans will have their pride, find reasons to complain, and hope for another championship this season. The arrogance that the Wings are the best team in the NHL and best franchise in North America is something Wings fans are brought up with at a young age. Detroiters will laugh at these current rankings and then when they are number one in all categories show them off and share them with everyone in- and outside of Michigan. It’s who we are. It’s what we do. Go Wings.