Nashville Predators rank high in ESPN's "Ultimate Standings" 2012

NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 04: Team mascot Gnash tries to get Nashville Predators fans cheering against the Phoenix Coyotes in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bridgestone Arena on May 2, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

The Nashville Predators have placed 14th among all 122 North American major league sports teams in ESPN's latest edition of their Ultimate Standings, which ranks franchises based categories such as on-field performance, ownership stability, fan relations, and other factors.

This puts them fourth among NHL teams on the list, trailing Phoenix, Tampa Bay, and New Jersey, and represents a climb up from 18th spot last summer. The Preds' strongest areas was Affordability (7th overall), while their weakest was "Title Track", a measure of championships either recently won or reasonably expected soon (61st). Here's a comparison of this year's vs. last year's rankings:

Year Rank (of 122) Bang for the Buck Fan Relations Ownership Affordability Stadium Experience Players Coaching Title Track
2012 14 22 27 35 7 25 30 17 61
2011 18 33 6 41 7 23 16 14 70

The interesting bit to me is the drop in the Fan Relations ranking. Has there been a difference in service level that you've seen as a Preds fan, or might this instead mean that other franchises are picking up on what teams like the Predators are doing?

Either way, the continued climb upwards should be considered a validation that Nashville is indeed making progress towards their oft-stated goal of providing the top sports & entertainment venue in the world, centered around a championship hockey team.

At the other end of that spectrum, as has been the laughing stock of the hockey world since being talked about on Puck Daddy yesterday, the Toronto Maple Leafs came in dead-last at #122.

Locally, the NFL's Tennessee Titans ranked 72nd, a healthy climb from their #98 ranking of 2011.

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