The NHL season may not even get off the ground and already the Toronto Maple Leafs are in last place.
Last as in being voted the worst professional sports franchise in North America in a ranking done by ESPN The Magazine.
In a ranking system that was broken down into six different categories, the Leafs finished last out of 122 total teams behind the likes of perennial cellar dwellers such as the Sacramento Kings, Charlotte Bobcats, New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Here is a breakdown and my brief analysis of how the Leafs’ futility was judged, keeping mind that 121 other teams were polled:
BANG FOR THE BUCK: Wins during the past three years (regular season plus postseason) per revenues directly from fans, adjusted for league schedules.
TML Rank: 122—Can’t disagree with the numbers here
FAN RELATIONS: Openness and consideration toward fans by players, coaches and management.
TML Rank: 119—Players hate playing in the fishbowl, and coaches hate dealing with the media, turning them into angry and bitter athletes. Especially when the boos rain down all over ACC ice.
OWNERSHIP: Honesty and loyalty to core players and local community.
TML Rank: 112—How can this be judged when no one knows exactly who the owners are? The ownership is so far detached from the team that there is no connection whatsoever to anyone or anything.
AFFORDABILITY: Price of tickets, parking and concessions.
TML Rank: 122—Anyone who has ever been to the ACC certainly won’t debate this one. Ok Mr. Middle Class, you wanna take the fam to a 5-2 loss tonight? Ok that will be $400 please.
STADIUM EXPERIENCE: Quality of arena and game-day promotions as well as friendliness of environment.
TML Rank: 104—Wait a second, you’re telling me that all those empty seats bought up by corporations can’t make noise? Who knew.
PLAYERS: Effort on the field and likability off it.
TML Rank: 121—I somewhat disagree with this one as I have begun to feel more pitty for the team rather simply disliking them.
COACHING: Strength of on-field leadership.
TML Rank: 111—Mats Sundin was a good leader. Did he factor in? Doesn’t look like it…
TITLE TRACK: Championships already won or expected in the lifetime of current fans.
TML Rank: 121—1967 is nowhere near the Chicago Cubs last title so apparently ESPN doesn’t think too highy of the Blue & White going forward.