Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thrashers' fans suck?

Derek Felska of The State of Hockey News (a Minny blog) has his annual fan rankings out. Puck Padre Greg Wyshynski finds a bit of fault to these rankings, and he manages to pepper his commentary with it.

Proof that the list is weird? Avs at #26. Sayth Wysh:

And No. 26, the Colorado Avalanche. Seeing as how this is patently absurd, we present the full justification:

Perhaps its fitting an Avalanche is a downward slide of snow and ice because it has been downward spiral for the team since 2007-08. Injuries submarined the team's dim playoff hopes early in the season as Colorado plummeted towards the bottom of the standings. Up until the 2005-06 season the team was riding a 10-year sellout streak, but since the team first missed the playoffs in 2006-07 (since it arrived in Colorado) the sellouts have ended and attendance has been dwindling. The retirement of the franchise's best skater of all time, Joe Sakic(notes), likely will not help get fans to show up either. A sagging economy has not helped either, but when the team stopped winning, Denver stopped caring as much. It will still be a while before Colorado can turn it around, but how much farther will this avalanche travel down the mountain before that begins, or could this team go the way of the Colorado Rockies (the hockey team not the MLB team)?

And the New York Islanders are No. 25. Yes, in this man's world, the New York Islanders have a more dedicated and rabid fan base than the Colorado Avalanche.

Yeah. Basically what this gentleman did was look at attendance from last season, standings, "web presence", and apparently retail stores - which is how the Thrashers fan base is dead last.

#30 - Atlanta Thrashers - 9.2

Pct. of Capacity in 2008-09: 78.8% (14,626, 29th in the NHL) Online Presence: 3.2

Last Year's Rank: 26th

Justification: I am going to share a little story with you which will might explain why the Atlanta Thrashers are deserving of being called the league's worst fans. Just this spring, I went down Georgia as part of an Educators Tour to Ft. Benning. On our way back, we were given the day to enjoy downtown Atlanta. While there I went into a sports apparrel shop, which was filled with all sorts of Atlanta sports team clothing; Braves jerseys, Falcons jerseys, and some college football jerseys yet nowhere to be found was anything pertaining to the Thrashers. I asked the attendant, "Do you have any Atlanta Thrashers stuff" and I was met with a confused look and then a quick question to her co-worker, "Do we have any Thrashers stuff?" A few seconds later they pointed me to the only two items they had pertaining to the the Thrashers along with an explaination of how extremely rare it is anyone is looking for their merchandise. Now does that mean that there are almost no Thrashers fans out there? No, but in the larger scheme of things there does not appear to be too many. In a Southern city where its almost a challenge to find someone with a southern drawl, it might surprise people just how many Atlanta residents are people who used to live in areas which are quite familiar with snow and ice. The Thrashers online presence is very small and that does little to help a team that many in Atlanta seem to struggle to remember they are even there. That sound you just heard was Ilya Kovalchuk screaming over the fact he has at least one more season with the team.

No, that sound that you just heard was the fanbase of the Thrashers crying foul. Last I checked, if you look over to the links section on the right here, I have listed FIFTEEN Thrashers blogs, all of which are extremely high quality. Falconer at BWA writes everyone in the free world under the table all the way to China. Ben, the Thrashers' web guy, has a bigger Twitter presence than really most TEAMS do.

Felska brings up a valid point of yes, Thrash merch is hard to find and yes, a lot of the people down here cling to their old team loyalties (*looking innocent*). It's hard for the Thrashers to compete with college football here until they win more, but this is still a pretty harsh evaluation.

His evaluation of the Blues is not much better:

#20 - St. Louis Blues - 12.7

Pct. of Capacity in 2008-09: 96.8% (17,488, 15th in the NHL) Online Presence: 3.7

Last Year's rank: 18th

Justification: This might seem strange but the Blues are on a resurgence. Last year, the team a mix of veterans and a number of youngsters had an outstanding 2nd half to make the playoffs only to be swept by the Vancouver Canucks in four very hard-fought games. The fans have started to fill Scottrade Center most nights and as always are a loud and boisterous group. Despite the resurgence of the team on the ice, the team creates very limited buzz in the town that features MLB superstar Albert Pujols; even the dismal St. Louis Rams garner considerably more discussion then the rising Blues. Sure, the NFL owns the United States but the Rams have been spinning their wheels for years now. The Blues online presence is amongst the league's worst, which is disappointing considering the fans seem to enjoy their hockey. General Manager Larry Pleau and Team President John Davidson have done a tremendous job of building from within while adding just a handful of key vets and Head Coach Andy Murray has the team playing a gritty game their opponents hate and perhaps over time that will inspire more of its fans to blog and discuss the team on the interweb. I would not be surprised at all if they garnered a higher ranking next season if the team continues to improve in what is becoming one of the toughest divisions in the NHL.

So, a winning season, an amazing playoff push, and fun new talent - and we DROP two slots? How many sellouts did we have last season - 20 or so? Last I checked, there is a good deal of buzz about the Blues in St. Louis - unless you consider the standing room only crowd that wedged into the rink at St. Louis Mills to watch a bunch of 18 year old prospects do drills. The Post-Dispatch covers them very well. Yes, the Cards overshadow them, but I'm sorry - Albert does not impact Blues attendance. Heck, anyone see the dude in the Blues practice jersey next to the guy that caught one of Albert's HR Derby balls?

The only thing I can see that's pulling down the ranking is the web presence, but that's getting better. And you can find Blues swag all over the place in STL, so I don't wanna hear it. Any pro hockey team that has its own license plate is obviously pretty popular.

Of course, any team that lists the bandwagon hopping Chicago Blackhawks' fanbase as number TWO and Detroit's notorious "hey, we're freaking EVERYWHERE" fanbase at twelve is obviously, um... well, he obviously has no clue what he's talking about. Sorry.


Wayne stuck in AL said...

Felska's problem: he was in DOWNTOWN ATLANTA, which is more uh, hip-hop, urban, OK, BLACK where the fans are going to embrace the Braves, Falcons, Hawks, AND Michael Vick...He didn't go out to the suburbs, where the Thrashers' season-ticket base is located.

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