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Ultimate Standings: Ducks Among Top Five Teams

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks ranked #4 (second in NHL) out of all 122 major pro sports franchises (NHL/NFL/MLB/NBA) in the 2015 edition of the ESPN Magazine’s Ultimate Standings. Anaheim also ranked #1 among all 122 teams in the “bang for the buck” category.

This marks the third consecutive year the Ducks have had an overall ranking in the top eight among all teams, including three straight years finishing #1 or #2 in the NHL (#2 this year, #1 in 2014, #2 in 2013). The Ducks finished second in the overall rankings last year, behind the San Antonio Spurs (#1 the last two seasons).

The poll measures the opinions of fans based on overall performance, both on and off the ice/field/court, with respect to “what fans want most in return for the emotion, money and time they invest in their favorite clubs.”

From ESPN:

Anaheim Ducks
Overall: 4
Title track: T-18
Ownership: 8
Coaching: 53
Players: 21
Fan relations: 4
Affordability: 8
Stadium experience: 26
Bang for the buck: 1
Change from last year: -2

2015 Ultimate Standings: Lightning, Ducks lead NHL teams
This year, the NHL had 18 teams in the top half of all franchises, more than any other league. That's in large part to high scores in categories like bang for the buck and player likability, almost across the board. Of course, the bad -- well, it's really bad: The Maple Leafs received the worst scores in all of sports in categories like "has affordable ticket prices," "has players that always give their best effort" and "makes it easy to buy tickets online." On the other end of the spectrum, teams like the Lightning and Ducks have respected owners, affordable ticket prices -- and winning records. Moral of the story? It's good to be a hockey fan -- as long as you're not in Toronto.

Franchise Rankings
As we have for the past 13 years, we asked fans to vote on their favorite teams, then ranked all 122 sports franchises from top to bottom.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning (3 overall)
The Lightning fell just short of the ultimate prize last season, losing a hotly contested, six-game Stanley Cup final to the Blackhawks. But the Bolts are hockey's big winners as far as we're concerned. Not only did Tampa Bay reach the upper echelon of our Ultimate Standings, finishing third overall and first among NHL teams, it is top-four among all pro clubs in four categories. 

2. Anaheim Ducks (4 overall)
The Ducks may have had to watch the hometown rival Kings host Stanley Cup parades in 2012 and 2014, but they continue to earn high marks from our voters. Even with a slight dip from last year's No. 2 ranking, Anaheim is fourth overall and second in hockey behind only Tampa Bay. "It's terrific to be considered that way," Aaron Teats, the team's chief marketing officer, told ESPN. "It's humbling."

3. Dallas Stars (10 overall)
The Stars' mix of affordability, player access and anticipated success on the ice has bumped Dallas into the Top 10 of all franchises for the first time since our rankings began in 2003. Now, coming off a season in which they took a step back in the standings, the Stars hope that the addition of Stanley Cup winners Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya will improve not only their Ultimate Standings finish but also their division chances.

4. Detroit Red Wings (14 overall)
The Red Wings have long been the gold standard for NHL franchises, in large part because of owner Mike Ilitch, who this year finished as hockey's top owner as well as third-best boss in all of sports. "Not only does [ownership] want to win, they will do everything they can do to win," says Tom Wilson, the CEO and president of Olympia Entertainment, which runs the business side of the Red Wings and Detroit Tigers. "As a fan, if you know the owner wants to win as bad as you do, that creates tremendous loyalty."

5. Chicago Blackhawks (17 overall)
Three Stanley Cups in six years have been good for the hearts and minds of Chicago Blackhawks fans but not for their wallets. While the Blackhawks rank near the top in every category related to on-ice performance, the franchise dropped outside the overall top 10 this year because of rising costs to attend games at the United Center.
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