Ranking The NHL’s Most Popular Franchises

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Have you ever wondered which NHL team is the most popular? Maybe you and your buddies have even argued about it a few times. Determining the most popular team in the National Hockey League is a borderline impossible task, however, social media engagement helps provide insight into which NHL clubs attract the most attention from fans. Team worth, Google search results, and team attendance also assist in painting a clearer picture about franchise popularity. This ranking of the NHL’s most popular franchises is based on 5 criteria.

1) NHL Team Google Search Results: Greater Google search results translate to a larger demand for content about each NHL team. A larger demand for content implies a greater market of interested readers and viewers.

2) NHL Franchise Facebook Likes: Facebook “Likes” are a great way to prove fan interaction, which is a form of popularity.

3) NHL Team Twitter Followers: It’s quite obvious that a high number of Twitter followers is a clear indication of a team’s interested following.

4) NHL Team Worth: This one is obvious. If an NHL team is profiting, and making lots of money, there are definitely tons of people willing to invest their cash into that team, making the team popular.

5) NHL Team Attendance: Perhaps the truest form of popularity can be determined by fan willingness to get off the couch and head over to watch their favourite team play live.

Google Search Popularity

While performing a Google Search using each NHL team’s official name as search terms, the following 10 teams received the highest results.

1. Los Angeles Kings – 162,000,000
2. Dallas Stars – 130,000,000
3. Washington Capitals – 115,000,000
4. New York Rangers – 97,400,000
5. Minnesota Wild – 84,200,000
6. Toronto Maple Leafs – 56,700,000
7. Detroit Red Wings – 51,800,000
8. Chicago Blackhawks – 48,800,000
9. Florida Panthers – 48,800,000
10. Boston Bruins – 46,800,000

The Results Explained

There were some surprises on this list. For example, the Dallas Stars, Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers all placed significantly higher in Google Search Results than they did on the other 4 types of metrics.

This could have happened for a number of reasons. For example, in the case of the Florida Panthers, it is very possible many results containing the search terms “Florida” and “Panthers” dug up articles written about games between the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and any of Florida’s NFL teams.

Although, Google Search Results may not be the most consistent of the 5 criteria, they are considered, because for many NHL teams these results are accurate. By combining results from Google Search with the other criteria, the truly popular teams find their way to the top of the list.

NHL Team Facebook Likes

1. Boston Bruins – 1,417,449
2. Detroit Red Wings – 1,406,051
3. Chicago Blackhawks – 1,404,101
4. Pittsburgh Penguins – 1,317,487
5. New York Rangers – 1,051,280
6. Montreal Canadiens – 1,002,979
7. Philadelphia Flyers – 875,386
8. Vancouver Canucks – 827,386
9. Toronto Maple Leafs – 713,150
10. San Jose Sharks – 559,363

The Results Explained

This criteria is very straight forward. The teams with the most “likes” are generating the most interest from fans on Facebook. It does not include all the fans who don’t use Facebook, or have never “liked” their team’s page. If your team isn’t in this Top 10, their social media presence could be stronger.

NHL Team Twitter Followers

1. Montreal Canadiens – 454,093
2. Chicago Blackhawks – 439,915
3. Boston Bruins – 438,785
4. Pittsburgh Penguins – 424,581
5. Vancouver Canucks – 419,392
6. Toronto Maple Leafs – 405,027
7. Detroit Red Wings – 338,356
8. Philadelphia Flyers – 280,926
9. Los Angeles Kings – 265,806
10. New York Rangers – 258,076

The Results Explained

Want to talk about popularity? Twitter provides an amazing metric of team reach and status. This list showcases the 10 NHL teams with the most followers on Twitter, providing insight into which teams’ fans are the most interested in constant team updates via Twitter.

The Twitter follower list is courtesy of CapGeek.

NHL Team Worth

1. Toronto Maple Leafs – 1,000 ($mil)
2. New York Rangers – 750 ($mil)
3. Montreal Canadiens – 575 ($mil)
4. Chicago Blackhawks – 350 ($mil)
Boston Bruins – 350 ($mil)
6. Detroit Red Wings – 346 ($mil)
7. Vancouver Canucks – 342 ($mil)
8. Philadelphia Flyers – 336 ($mil)
9. Pittsburgh Penguins – 288 ($mil)
10. Los Angeles Kings – 276 ($mil)

The Results Explained

If your favourite NHL team is worth a lot of money, it’s making a lot of money, and if it’s making a lot of money that means a massive amount of people love it enough to spend. NHL team worth is a clear indicator of popularity.

NHL Teams Worth figures courtesy of Forbes – http://www.forbes.com/nhl-valuations/list/

NHL Team Attendance

NHL team attendance was calculated by percentage of sell-outs throughout the 2012-13 NHL season, not total attendance, because arena sizes differ. Some NHL franchises enjoyed over 100% attendance because they sell standing room tickets. Teams were not given higher ranking for standing room. Every team with 100% attendance or better was scored the same.

1. Chicago Blackhawks – 110.4%
2. Minnesota Wild – 104.7%
3. Toronto Maple Leafs – 103.2%
4. Pittsburgh Penguins – 101.4%
5. Ottawa Senators – 101.3%
Philadelphia Flyers – 101.3%
7. Los Angeles Kings – 100.3%
8. Vancouver Canucks – 100.2%
9. Boston Bruins – 100%
Calgary Flames – 100%
Detroit Red Wings – 100%
Edmonton Oilers – 100%
Montreal Canadiens – 100%
New York Rangers – 100%
San Jose Sharks – 100%
Winnipeg Jets – 100%
17. Florida Panthers – 99.7%
18. Buffalo Sabres – 99.5%
19. Tampa Bay Lightning – 99.2 %
Nashville Predators – 99.2%
21. New Jersey Devils – 97.1%
22. Washington Capitals – 95.8%
23. Carolina Hurricanes – 94%
24. Anaheim Ducks – 92.5%
25. Dallas Stars – 92.1%
26. St. Louis Blues – 90.1%
27. Colorado Avalanche – 85.8%
28. New York Islanders – 82.3%
29. Phoenix Coyotes – 81.3%
30. Columbus Blue Jackets – 80.3%

The Results Explained

Every team with 100% or more attendance is scored the same. After that, rankings kick in. For example, the Florida Panthers 99.7% attendance ranks them 2nd in NHL attendance on the popularity list because all the teams above the Panthers sold out to their maximum capabilities.

The Most Popular Teams In The National Hockey League

The sum of the number value per team, per list, was used to determine the final NHL team popularity rankings.

30. Columbus Blue Jackets
29. Phoenix Coyotes
28. Nashville Predators
27. New York Islanders
26. Anaheim Ducks
25. Carolina Hurricanes
24. Florida Panthers
23. Tampa Bay Lightning
22. Colorado Avalanche
21. St. Louis Blues
20. Winnipeg Jets
19. Buffalo Sabres
18. New Jersey Devils
17. Edmonton Oilers
16. Ottawa Senators
15. Dallas Stars
14. San Jose Sharks
13. Calgary Flames
12. Minnesota Wild
11. Washington Capitals
10. Philadelphia Flyers
9. Los Angeles Kings
8. Pittsburgh Penguins
7. Montreal Canadiens
6. Vancouver Canucks
5. Detroit Red Wings
4. Toronto Maple Leafs
3. New York Rangers
2. Boston Bruins
1. Chicago Blackhawks

The Results Explained

For those of you expecting to find the Montreal Canadiens at the top of this list, or at least, top 5, you are probably as surprised as I was. According to the criteria used in this ranking, the Habs lost a lot of points because of Google search results. The Canadiens had the 23rd most results on Google when the search terms “Montreal Canadiens” were used.

For the most part, the teams at the bottom of the list are newer franchises, therefore, they inevitably don’t enjoy the deep rooted support shared amongst the Original 6 franchises and early expansions teams.

Also, small markets seem to play a factor. NHL teams from smaller cities scored lower on the list, for obvious reasons. Much of a team’s popularity comes from its fans within its home city. For many newer, small market clubs, there aren’t as many people with a likelihood of following compared to big city franchises like the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks.