With the Stanley Cup Finals in full swing, now is the ideal time to check out where the loudest, craziest, most loyal fans are. (The results are from research conducted by several sources, including Forbes, and are not the personal opinion of the writer. Factors like TV ratings, game attendance, merchandise sales and social media presence were taken into account).
14. Florida Panthers
The fans have had to dig deep to cheer about their team since the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996. The Panthers may not be performing as well as they'd like, but they've done better this season - and it shows with an increase in seats filled this season.
13. Anaheim Ducks
Of the three California-based NHL teams, Anaheim ranks the lowest in average attendance. The Ducks have been one of the better teams since the year-long lockout of 04-05, but they just can’t draw the support in Anaheim. They're a great team and organization but the public doesn't seem to realise this yet.
12. Dallas Stars
Dallas fans are finally starting to realize the team’s potential as they improved vastly this season pushing themselves to the playoffs. However, that doesn’t make up for the fact that at the start of the turnaround, no one in the city seemed to care. The team made the playoffs in 2014, yet they were last in attendance at 79%. They are one of the few teams where, even when the team performed well, attendance stayed low.
11. St. Louis Blues
The Blues have been one of the better teams in the Western Conference for the past few seasons, but the TV ratings didn't reflect that. Social media engagements weren't much better, either. But this season, there's been a turnaround – for obvious reasons. Attendance numbers have always been strong though, and that kept St. Louis from getting too near the bottom of the list. Plus, they all know the Towel Guy...
10. Nashville Predators
If you're thinking of a non-traditional hockey market having success, the Predators will probably pop up. They're consistently good on the ice, and the fans buy the jerseys, the hats, the shirts – just about everything. Hockey is definitely growing in the Music City with attendance rising in five of the last six seasons.
9. Washington Capitals
Washington is a market that is growing year after year, and more so this year when the Caps played so consistently. Fans show up and are incredibly supportive of the team inside the arena, and now they're averaging more than 16,000 per game.
8. Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are usually in the playoffs, and Detroit fans will always show up to Joe Louis Arena. With two decades of constant postseason appearances, Detroit has built up a national following unlike any other in the United States. That's a surprise.
7. Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers fans are a loyal lot. They are some of the most vocal in all of the league, and their passion is untameable. They travel well, and they show up whether the Flyers are playing great or terrible. Now that's a nice bunch of fans.
6. San Jose Sharks
The Sharks are the highest placed Californian team. Attendance has been over a 17,000 average for years in the Shark Tank, and the fans in Northern California have been supporting the team in every way possible. TV ratings weren’t fantastic until this year, when the Sharks performed better than ever before, making it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. Oh, and fans just hate the Kings...
5. New York Rangers
A game at MSG is very expensive, one of the highest priced events in the league. The arena is often sold out, but sometimes doesn’t fill up to capacity during the week. Rangers fans are very vocal and loyal on social media, but it doesn’t always show inside the arena. The type of fans that can afford games are much different to what you see online – let's just say the Rangers have more celebrity fans than other franchises.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs
Even though they like to throw their jerseys on the ice, Leafs fans are so dedicated that they'll just go out and buy a new one the very next day. With the team being in a full rebuild, the stands continue to be full for Toronto every night.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh has the benefit of having some of the league’s best players, so it's obvious the fans will show up. But what will happen if they aren't there and the team aren't as good as they were in the last decade? Well, considering that they've made it to the Stanley Cup finals this year, the fans are likely to stick to their pregame rituals...
2. Montreal Canadiens
Some argue Toronto may be the biggest Canadian hockey city, but the numbers show that Montreal is in fact the land of hockey. Canadiens fans are some of the most vocal on all forms of social media, and they continue to make tickets nearly impossible to find. Oh, and you'll almost certainly walk through Montreal and see fans in Habs gear.
1. Chicago Blackhawks
With the Blackhawks success in the last six years, comes the best fans in the league. Blackhawks fans fill up the United Center to the point that it’s a fire hazard. Everyone wants to get in, making their tickets one of the hardest to get in the league. Their social media presence is also right up there, with the most Facebooks fans of any team...