Leafs Nation round table - The worst team

Cam Charron
September 07 2012 12:42PM

This may be an extended offseason, so to break up the time, some of the writers on TLN are exchanging emails to each other, discussing the Toronto Maple Leafs and NHL hockey as whole. Today's topic is ESPN The Magazine's assertion that the Maple Leafs are the single worst major pro sports team for fan experience in all of North America.

From: Danny Gray
To: Steve Dangle, Gus Katsaros, Cam Charron
Subj: The worst team

I'll never understand why these things praise "affordability" and "ownership-fan relations" or "in-house experience" over you know, selling a whack tonne of tickets, TV spots, and gear. Who cares if the Florida Panthers have cheap seats and really funny jumbo-tron videos or t-shirt cannons, you still have to watch the Florida freaking Panthers. The list is basically: Teams that haven't won a championship recently but still charge a lot for tickets. And by that criteria the Leafs obviously suck, the funny thing is that the other 29 teams in the league would kill to be in this circumstance.

At this exact moment the league is attempting to cry poor because so many teams are losing money, some of them actually win hockey games and make the playoffs and still can't turn a profit. Then you have the Leafs who make what, twice the ticket revenue of the bottom half of the league combined? And they are made to be a laughingstock, or labelled "the worst" franchise. It doesn't make any sense.

I understand that a large part, hell, really, the only part about professional sports is winning. And the Leafs more or less suck at that. But the business side is part of what makes the NHL and part of

what makes that winning mean something. If it were simply about winning hockey games everyone would go crazy over the Calder Cup, but they don't. It's the fact that the NHL has a legacy of being the best league in which hockey is played, and the Leafs have been an essential part of making the NHL what it is today. Furthermore their financial clout props up teams who the market has otherwise deemed a failure. Yet somehow they are the worst. 

In conclusion, this list is dumb. And everyone knows the Senators are the worst team anyway. 

From: Steve Dangle
To: Danny Gray, Gus Katsaros, Cam Charron
Subj: RE: The worst team

Aren't they also below the "Atlanta Thrashers"?

Sent from my iPhone

From: Cam Charron
To: Steve Dangle, Danny Gray, Gus Katsaros
Subj: RE: Re: The worst team

I take issue with the fact that they're also below the Sacramento Kings, who may not have a team next season.

Funny, though, you look at previous rankings. Last season, Tampa, Pittsburgh and Buffalo were 1, 2 and 3 for the NHL. I assume these came out in the summer, because Toronto was ranked below Atlanta again, and you see how that worked out.

Ever watch ESPN's "Numbers Never Lie" segment? It's sometimes on TSN or TSN2 or whichever channel doesn't have enough original programming. They base rankings on subjective, unproven measures. Nevermind some of these places don't have teams anymore, or won't have teams anymore, and will give back zero on fan investment, all that matters is the players' "effort on the field and likability off of it" which can apparently be quantified in the ESPN offices.

From: Gus Katsaros
To: Cam Charron, Steve Dangle, Danny Gray
Subj: RE: Re: Re: The worst team

What a stupid article. It misses the mark in almost its entirety.

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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#1 Steve Holtom
September 07 2012, 05:37PM
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What the H. E. double hockey stick does ESPN know about a successful sports franchise. ok, they suck, does that make them the worst PRO franchise (give me a break)

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#2 Disgrace
September 07 2012, 09:24PM
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As a Canuck fan, I'm disgraced by this analysis.

Seriously. Since when did ESPN know anything about hockey? Secondly, why do the Leafs get such a bad rap? It peeves me off. Any Cdn hockey team should be ranked near the top of most these categories other than affordability. ESPN is a biased joke.

Poo on ESPN.

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#3 ChinookArch
September 08 2012, 07:54AM
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Lists like these are generally a waste of time, that said, the biggest criteria looks to be Bang for buck, and Afffordability. Based on the price of admission, the Leafs have to be near the top of the list.

@ Danny "the funny thing is that the other 29 teams in the league would kill to be in this circumstance."

Yes, 29 other owners, but find another fan base that needs to go to 1967 for a championship in the NHL, and want to kill for that circumstance.

"Then you have the Leafs who make what, twice the ticket revenue of the bottom half of the league combined? And they are made to be a laughingstock, or labelled "the worst" franchise. It doesn't make any sense."

Actually, it kinda sounds like an indictment of the fans who pay for a poor product, again going back to the BNG and Affordability criterias.

Before, I get completely attacked here. I'm not trolling, since at the end of the day IT'S JUST A STUPID LIST. Get over it already.

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#4 beloch
September 08 2012, 04:33PM
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"I'll never understand why these things praise "affordability" and "ownership-fan relations" or "in-house experience" over you know, selling a whack tonne of tickets, TV spots, and gear."

They're taking the fan's side. i.e. Instead of looking at how profitable or successful a team is as a business, they're looking at how good it is to be a fan of that team. Let's face it, leafs-fans get shafted. They pay more for tickets that practically any other fans in the league, they buy more merch, and they haven't been treated to a Stanley Cup final match in 45 years. If you were Spock and you had to choose a NHL team to be a fan of, the Leafs are literally the last team you'd pick because they offer the least "value" for the dollar.

Leaf's fans are true blue. They've been faithful to the team even when the team clearly didn't deserve it. Arguably they *still* don't deserve it, although their effort is improving...

I'm not a Leafs fan. I'm a Flames fan. The fact that a Flames fan can feel sorry for you (in spite of the trades you guys have royally shafted us in over the years) should say it all.

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#5 JOE
September 09 2012, 05:16AM
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@beloch

I agree with beloch, this report is all about the treatment of the fans. You can take the rankings with a grain of salt but I think its safe to say the message is clear that ownership should put the fans first rather then their pocketbooks. Yes, its a business and leaf tickets seem to be in demand and people just keep coming regardless of the price. Fair enough. But sooner or later their loyal fan base that pays their bills and lines their pockets should at least be treated with a competitive team or even a playoff caliber team. You can not guarentee a stanley cup every year but look at the Red Wings. They have to have a good team every year or that team would not exist. So how do they do it? Good drafting, smart trades, not starting over every 5 years. Real hockey minds making the team decisions not the ownership. I have been a leaf fan for over 30 years but it is more and more obvious that the ownership could care less about the fans and just trying to keep the money train rollin'.

As for the trades the leafs made with the flames over the years, I think that is the only highlight in the past 30 years we can brag about, getting Dougie Gilmour as cheap as we did. I guess Gary Leeman didnt have the same affect in Cow town?

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#6 beloch
September 09 2012, 02:25PM
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The Gilmour trade was the worst, but the Phaneuf trade was also a bit of a brain-fart on the part of the Flames. Of course, anytime you guys want Stajan back...

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