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Forbes has recently put out a list of the best fans for the four major sports leagues in North America (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL). The list includes the top four teams from each of the leagues. The NHL is represented by the following teams:

3. Detroit Red Wings
6. Pittsburgh Penguins
11. Montreal Canadiens
16. Chicago Blackhawks

This excerpt from the Forbes article explains how the list was comprised:

"To produce a list of the best fans in U.S. sports, we looked at every team in the "Big Four" U.S. professional sports leagues: football (NFL), basketball (NBA), baseball (MLB), and hockey (NHL).For each team, we gathered three different metrics. First, we measured their home and away game attendance, which indicates a team's drawing power in its home market and nationwide. Then we counted their merchandise sales (Numbers for the NFL, NBA and MLB were provided to us by Sportsonesource, a sporting good industry analyst, and the NHL gave us their own data). Finally, we ranked each team's in-market popularity, based on surveys of American sports teams by Turnkey Sports and Entertainment. We ranked all of the teams, then took the top four from each of the four leagues."

In my opinion, the list is too heavily influenced by the current state of the teams. It does not give any consideration to the past. I don't think it's a coincidence that three of the four teams on the list are the three most recent Stanley Cup winners. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks are two of the best teams in the league with some of the top stars in the game; they are also the two most recent Stanley Cup winners. Winning the Stanley Cup and having superstar players not only will increase attendance but it will also boost merchandise sales. I am pretty sure that a large majority of Penguins and Hawks fans have some form of Stanley Cup gear for their teams. Now I don't doubt that Penguins fans or Hawks fans have a strong passion for their team, but prior to them icing cup contenders their home attendance numbers don't compete with teams like the Canadiens, and Leafs.

In the 07/08 season the Hawks had an 82% home game attendance rate, and in 06/07 it was 62% (second lowest in the league). That is only 3 seasons ago! The Penguins had a home game attendance rate of 93% in 05-06 (Sidney Crosby's rookie season) and the worst attendance in the league in 03-04 (70%).

If you want to talk about the best fans, you need to consider how those fans act in years when the team is not performing well. You need to eliminate all the people that jump on the bandwagon while the team is the flavor of the week. To Forbes' credit, they give this as one of the reasons for the top team on their list, the Boston Red Sox.

Here are my top 4 NHL team fans:

1. Toronto Maple Leafs
2. Montreal Canadiens
3. Detroit Red Wings
4. Philadelphia Flyers

Which NHL teams do you think have the best fans?
Filed Under:   NHL   Attendance   Forbes   Fans  
August 4, 2010 7:12 PM ET | Delete
HAH Toronto Maple Leafs have the best fans!? I live in Toronto, and I'd honestly have to put them waaaaaay down the list. When the most profitable franchise in the league misses the playoffs for 6 years straight and the fans dont revolt (and actually pay 300 dollars to see them lose), it pretty much sickens me. Sure, I'm probably biased since I'm a habs fan, but most of my friends are leafs fans and they agree, Toronto is a joke.
August 4, 2010 7:23 PM ET | Delete
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim rule all East Coast queerbaits!
August 4, 2010 7:32 PM ET | Delete
No offense, but wouldn't make sense if the 1st team on the list had some correlation with a researched list? Instead of just saying your favourite team has the best fans?
August 4, 2010 8:17 PM ET | Delete
I would agree that the suits at the games don't qualify as fans, and yes they have been a joke of an organization, but their fan loyalty is second to none. If you go to any other city where they are playing you will see a strong Leaf presence in the stands, just like you would with Montreal, Detroit, Philly...that means something to me when looking at a list like this.
August 4, 2010 8:19 PM ET | Delete
Minnesota Wild. They sell out every game.
August 4, 2010 11:50 PM ET | Delete
It's actually hard not to believe that the Leafs aren't the most popular team in the NHL. Whether you like them or not. The fact that the wait list for season tickets is longer than most people will live is a staggering fact. Forbes doesn't take into account things like the fact that while Chicago is hockey mad and a original 6 team, most of their fans diddn't know they even had a team 5 years ago. Like the Pens they've had an amazing Turnaround. Unlike Montreal, Detroit,
August 4, 2010 11:53 PM ET | Delete
Minnesota Wild sell out every home game, but outside of their own arena they have the least amount of fans at away games. When Philly comes to the west coast, the stands are half Orange
August 5, 2010 2:13 AM ET | Delete
wow, how the heck did the pens and hawks make it? did anyone really care about them a few years ago? my top fans from each sport would be NBA lakers NHL Habs NFL Packers and for MLB the yankees
August 5, 2010 9:47 AM ET | Delete
Habs and Leafs fans are the best for sure. I hate admitting it but they support their team in any building and expect a lot from their franchises.
August 5, 2010 1:41 PM ET | Delete
it is a list of the best fans not the most fans, just because there are alot of TO fans doesnt make them great......in fact didnt TO make the list for most annoying fans or was that VAN?
August 5, 2010 2:52 PM ET | Delete
Vancouver made the list for worst fans because there have been tons of reports of players from opposing teams saying they get spit on when in Vancouver, they get verbally harassed, etc...It's disgusting behavior to be sure.
August 5, 2010 3:06 PM ET | Delete
Having spent a lot of time traveling to see games at different venues I can personally say that the Toronto, Nashville, and Atlanta fans are by far the friendliest. The Washington, Carolina, NY (Rangers and Devils) and Pittsburgh are all honestly disrespectful.
August 5, 2010 7:36 PM ET | Delete
August 7, 2010 5:05 PM ET | Delete
Rangers fan here living in So Cal. I've seen NY at Honda Center and Staples. Rangers fans travel really well too. Argument can be made they rank high on this list too. @Phigment: I won't argue with you about Rangers fans being disrespectful other than to say I haven't seen it first-hand. I know for a fact I am not; so "all" can't be disrespectful.
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