Last season, Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley joked that due to the team’s lack of previous success, the hockey world threw rocks at them, and as they enjoyed more success, they began to throw flowers. The annual ranking of North American pro franchises by ESPN (“the Ultimate Standings”) represents another bouquet of flowers.
A year after being ranked 89th out of 122 franchises, the Flames have made a leap to the 56th spot on the rankings.
For giggles, let’s compare the Flames to the other Canadian teams in their categories.
(Calgary’s listed first; everybody else on rank order. NHL Rank is out of 30, every other rank is from 1 to 122).
|Bang For Your Buck||87||51||24||102||119||110||122|
|Change From Last Year||+33||+1||+34||+28||+3||-1||0|
What’s hurting Calgary’s ranking? The Saddledome, according to ESPN’s fan polling:
The Flames’ worst ranking — and the only category in which they landed in the triple digits — was in stadium experience, a reflection of dissatisfaction with the team’s aging Saddledome. Last year the Flames were third worst in hockey in the category (114th overall). Their nine-slot climb this year is explained perhaps by some 2013 renovations — or maybe it’s just overeager supporters dreaming of an oft-promised new home. Earlier this year, Flames owners released a plan for a multipurpose sports/entertainment complex, though whether it gets built depends on a significant public funds element to the proposed $890 million plan.
Before you go out grabbing a shovel, though: Vancouver and Toronto got ranked lower than the Saddledome for Stadium Experience and neither of those buildings (Rogers Arena and the Air Canada Centre, respectively) are being replaced imminently. (Edmonton’s replacing Rexall Centre, which is why I didn’t mention their bad score in that category.)
The rankings were done via a fan vote, asking fans to judge their franchises on various questions, and then scaled to combine leagues. Calgary’s big jump in the rankings was largely attributed to their on-ice success.
Are the Flames ranked where they should be among the Canadian teams? And are you satisfied with where they slotted in the various categories versus other teams? Let us know where ESPN’s polling got it right (or wrong) in the comments!