The Devils ranked 74th out of 122 professional teams in the 4 major sports according to ESPN Mag's annual franchise rankings. Those rankings can be found here.
We also managed to be 22nd our of the 30 NHL teams and those are rankings that can be found here.
The Devils individual rankings broken down by category can be found here.
And lastly, a more user-friendly version of the information can be found in tableau form here, although it is not up-to-date. But for historical perspective you can peruse the 2003-2014 rankings there.
|Category||2014 rank||2015 rank||Change|
|Bang for the buck||78||77||1|
I''m going to choose a few to break down.
Title track: 25th,
Ok ... so this one probably needs some explanation. The definition on Title track is "Championships won or expected to win in the lifetime of current fans." The Devils have had 3 cups in the lifetime of any fans 20+ year-old fans. That's pretty solid. Below are the only teams that can say the same:
|San Antonio Spurs||5|
|Los Angeles Lakers||5|
|New York Yankees||5|
|Detroit Red Wings||4|
|New England Patriots||4|
|New Jersey Devils||3|
|Boston Red Sox||3|
|San Francisco Giants||3|
*Thanks to SorenFlyin for pointing out the Red Sox omission #FreudianSlippedMyMind
That's pretty stellar company.
But they also comment that our future isn't necessarily as bleak as we've been making it out to be. They mention Adam Larsson as a budding star Cory Schneider as an already elite goaltender. Cory is a huge factor here. Some great teams are a good goalie away from a cup, and some good teams are a great goalie away from a cup. We have a great goalie. That's tough to put a value on.
Stadium experience: 75th, Affordability 83rd, Fan Relations 73rd, Bang for the buck 77th
Stadium experience one has gone down almost every year that The Rock has been up. The dawn of The Rock shot us from 107 in the rankings to 16 and it's been a precipitous fall ever since, culminating in this year where we took out biggest fall ever in the category. As John noted in the beginning of last year, there were several changes to the stadium, few of which were popular. The concessions in particular were panned and are probably among the top reasons our Affordability score took a nosedive as well. The 3D projector is still pretty cool, especially for first-timers, but the novelty wears off. Very few changes seem to have been made with the fans (as opposed to profit) in mind. This may also have affected the Fan Relations ranking. Both of the latter rankings were negatively impacted by the ticket prices hikes which Alex commented on last year. The good will of the old days has been worn out and many fans are disappointed by not only the on-ice product, but their treatment as a fanbase. This is corroborated by a ranking of 77 in "Bang for the buck" implying that we are paying too much per win.
Ownership 81st, Coaching 104th, Players 79th
This is the actual cast of characters that make up the team. With a rookie behind that bench that is the youngest in the NHL, I think the skeptical Coaching ranking is warranted -- though I am optimistic about Hynes. I am mostly optimistic about his ability to develop young talent which segues into why our Players ranking is not as catastrophically low as you would assume. We are in the bottom of the middle third. Part of that reason is that the definition of the category is "Effort on the field, likability off it." which is certainly something the Devils' players have been good with. We are not completely barren of young talent like we used to be. For all we whine and moan about the current on-ice product, current management has done a good job of being extremely time-efficient with this rebuild, assembling 3 young, NHL-caliber forwards right away (Kyle Palmieri, Jiri Tlusty, Pavel Zacha), and disposing of some of the dead weight (Bryce Salvador, Ryane Clowe, Dainius Zubrus). It's tough to tell where "General Management" would fall in these rankings, but my best guess would be Ownership. This may be buoying out grade in that area because although Harris and Blitzer saved the team financially, folks haven't had much nice to say about them since.
Hey, the Rangers are 75th and the Flyers were 81st. That means that regardless of where in NJ you are, (my apologies for temporarily ostracizing the out-of-staters) the Devils are the best franchise of which to be a fan. I do hope that, over time, the current ownership/management/coaches can establish a tenure and a trust with the fanbase in order to re-establish the pride deserving of a great franchise.
What do you guys think of these rankings? What did ESPN get right or wrong? What did I get right or wrong? Where can the Devils make up the most ground the fastest? Leave all thought in the comments below. You know you want to ....