March 27, 2007
The Buffalo Sabres top all 122 major North American professional sports teams when it comes to paying fans back for their investment of time, money and passion, according to ESPN the Magazine. The publication's Ultimate Standings report, featured in the April 2 issue, ranks three other NHL clubs in the top 10: the Anaheim Ducks (#6), Nashville Predators (#8) and Carolina Hurricanes (#10).
"It's absolutely fabulous, first and foremost, from where we came from to where we're at." said head coach Lindy Ruff. "It's an easy community to give back to. We've got tremendous fans.
"We've got a great group of guys that don't say no to a lot of things."
For the first time ever, the NHL led all professional leagues with eight franchises finishing in the Top 25. The report was the result of exclusive and original analysis by ESPN The Magazine and the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center (WSMC) at the University of Oregon. This analysis is used to determine how teams turn fan support into success on the field.
"It's pretty amazing to be recognized around sports," said goaltender Ryan Miller
. "We have a group of guys that are very concerned with the world around them and it's very apparent with the efforts they've made to make this community more aware of issues that need to be addressed.
"We want to make an impact on the community and we want to be the type of people that are involved."
More than 80,000 fans were polled in phone and e-mail surveys and asked about their favorite teams in terms of fan relations, overall commitment and effort of ownership, players' efforts (in and out of competition), stadium experience, affordability for fans, quality of coaching and championship drive and success. One final category, "Bang for the Buck," measured a team's performance against money it receives directly from fans. Based on survey results, the Sabres were ranked #1 in this category.
ESPN THE MAGAZINE 2007 ULTIMATE STANDINGS: THE TOP 25
1. Buffalo Sabres --- NHL
2. San Antonio Spurs --- NBA
3. Dallas Mavericks --- NBA
4. Indianapolis Colts --- NFL
5. Detroit Pistons --- NBA
6. Anaheim Ducks --- NHL
7. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim --- MLB
8. Nashville Predators --- NHL
9. Pittsburgh Steelers --- NFL
10. Carolina Hurricanes --- NHL
11. Phoenix Suns --- NBA
12. Detroit Tigers --- MLB
13. Seattle Seahawks --- NFL
14. Minnesota Twins --- MLB
15. Atlanta Braves --- MLB
16. Milwaukee Brewers --- MLB
17. Tampa Bay Lightning --- NHL
18. Detroit Red Wings --- NHL
19. St. Louis Cardinals --- MLB
20. Dallas Stars --- NHL
21. Miami Heat --- NBA
22. San Jose Sharks --- NHL
23. Green Bay Packers --- NFL
24. Denver Broncos --- NFL
25. Jacksonville Jaguars --- NFL