For the last 14 years, ESPN has asked fans to rate their favorite teams in numerous categories. Once the responses had been recorded, ESPN ranked every pro franchise. They would use fan surveys, financial surveys and financial analysis to rank MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL teams (the four major sports) based on how they reward fans for the time, money and emotion they invest in their teams. With the Capitals being among the most exciting teams in not just the NHL but sports in general, where exactly did they stand? Let’s take a look.
Out of the 122 teams that were ranked, the Capitals were ranked 47th overall. That is an eight spot improvement from the previous year.
“Despite another spirit-rushing playoff defeat by the rival Penguins, Year 2 of the Barry Trotz era went even better than the first. The Capitals’ 120 points landed them the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s regular-season champion, and they might have made a real run at the Stanley Cup had they not been drawn, because of the league’s convoluted playoff format, against red-hot Pittsburgh in the second round. Still, Washington’s continued improvement didn’t go unnoticed in our standings.”
Their title track ranking is 96th with the decades of disappointments and not reaching the Cup finals since 1998 (sigh). It was also the last time not just a Capitals team, but a DC area team in the “major four” has made it past the second round of the playoffs (apologies again for that reminder). The Caps are ranked 89th in affordability, not surprising since tickets to Caps games aren’t cheap. Among the 23 NHL teams who are based in the U.S., only five of those teams have had a higher average ticket price ($71).
Despite being ranked 89th in affordability, the Caps were ranked 54th in stadium experience and 50th in bang for the buck. The bang for the buck category shot up 34 spots from 2015. While tickets may be expensive, having exciting players like Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby, and enthusiastic fans in the stands rocking the red, the experience of attending a Caps game is still worth it.
Some positives about the numbers based on where the Caps rank is the coaching which is 21st among all teams. Trotz has done a good job winning the fans over and instilling a better culture in the locker room, a huge reason why he was presented the Jack Adams Award. The Caps were ranked 43rd in players. Ownership has climbed up seven spots from 2015 to 19th this year thanks to the impact that Ted Leonsis has had on the franchise. Fan relations is also ranked at number 19, which is a two-spot improvement from the previous year. It’s great to see that despite all the disappointments in the playoffs this franchise has dealt with, that fans are still “all in” on their hockey team.
Hockey on Top!
The Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL) were ranked first overall. Here are the other nine for the top 10:
2. San Antonio Spurs (NBA)
3. Carolina Panthers (NFL)
4. Green Bay Packers (NFL)
5. Arizona Cardinals (NFL)
6. Nashville Predators (NHL)
7. Florida Panthers (NHL)
8. Dallas Stars (NHL)
9. Kansas City Royals (MLB)
10. Texas Rangers (MLB)
Looking at the Top 10, there’s four representatives from the NHL. For the other sports, there are three NFL teams, two MLB teams and just one NBA team. The Caps biggest rival (Penguins) were just outside the top 10 at 11th overall. If you’re looking at these rankings as only NHL teams, the Caps are right in the top half of those rankings at 13th.
Let’s now look at the other local teams. The Washington Nationals (MLB) are 13 spots ahead of the Caps at 34th. The Wizards, who share the Verizon Center with the Capitals, are 93rd while the Redskins are ranked 108th.
I could see the Capitals making a leap by the time ESPN releases next year’s numbers. I think the key is that they need to keep winning consistently and get past the second round of this year’s playoffs.
By Michael Marzzacco