What’s up, guys, gals, and NB pals! It’s your new BFF (Braden Fan Forever) Alexander O’Reilly, with my first ever officially published RMNB article! For my unofficial chickenscratch article or my incoherent fan rambling in the group chat, subscribe to the RMNB Patreon; worth every penny I promise.
Onto the main event. Some 1,300 of you wonderful readers responded to the survey of your three most favorite and three least favorite teams in the NHL. Shoutout to the 23 of you who put the Caps as your first, second, and third favorite team. Love the enthusiasm, made me hella cranky when I caught it at 12:15 AM Sunday morning since it made me clean all of the data before publishing. Why was I looking at the data as it came in so late? Blame Ian for talking my ear off for over an hour about his memorabilia collection. I couldn’t escape until night fell (<3 you Ian).
Anyways, here is a synopsis of your responses.
To no one’s great surprise, the Washington Capitals are the favorite team of the vast majority of respondents, specifically 92 percent. Another four percent of you had the Caps as either your second- or third-favorite team.
Putting the Caps aside, we get some interesting information. The Colorado Avalanche, Seattle Kraken, and Toronto Maple Leafs are all very popular teams (more on the Leafs later). The San Jose Sharks, despite only having just one “most favorite” votes, make a strong showing in second and third place votes. That might cement them as “Caps West,” but I wonder if the Kraken may have surpassed them – maybe because the shine still hasn’t come off the newest NHL franchise, maybe because everyone’s favorite nephew and two-time Stanley Cup Champion Andre Burakovsky plays there. The Minnesota Wild also make a strong showing in second and third place votes despite no first-place votes. Could we dub them “Caps North”, or is it just because they have been a non-factor in the loffs recently? Finally, and most surprisingly, the Penguins are not the bottom team here. RMNB has a wider reach than I anticipated (or maybe a lot of hate readers? Pens fans, please tell me how Tom Wilson is barely a replacement-level NHLer.) Looking only at first-place votes, Pittsburgh is tied for fourth, behind only Washington, Colorado, and Toronto – and tied with Seattle and Detroit. The only teams without a first-place vote are Minnesota, Winnipeg, Florida, and Columbus.
If we take out every Washington response and replace it with the team each person mentioned as their next favorite team, we see the second most popular answer is actually no one; many of you left your second- and third-favorite slots blank – or you chose the Caps as your first-, second-, and third-favorite teams, which, as previously mentioned, gave me fits when cleaning the data. There are no other Metropolitan teams in the top third, and only one team (Carolina) in the top half. It doesn’t surprise me that most of the Metro teams aren’t liked, although I am a bit surprised that the Hurricanes are so far up seeing as how they have been very good over the past few years and are one of the teams to beat the Caps in the playoffs since the Cup win.
Onto least favorite teams. Once again, the top result shouldn’t surprise anyone; Pittsburgh garners 72 percent of the least-favorite votes and appears in the bottom three in 87 percent of responses. Frankly, I am surprised that it is not higher. Compared to the 92 percent for the Caps as favorite team, we might conclude that while respondents are united in their love for the Caps, they are united in our distaste for the Pens.
Three respondents skipped over the “who do I like” questions and immediately went for the “who do I dislike” questions. All mentioned Pittsburgh. While I respect the passion, I must offer some advice to find some joy in your lives; if Star Wars has taught me anything it is that if you live off hate then hate eventually consumes you.
In addition to the Penguins, the Rangers, Flyers, and Bruins are very disliked teams; not very surprising. Boston got more first-place votes than anyone (except Pittsburgh) by a wide margin doesn’t surprise me either. What does surprise me is the Canes being fifth-most disliked – third by number of first place votes. They were somehow also the second most-liked Metro team. So respondents generally dislike the Canes – except for the decent minority who support them.
The least disliked team is Calgary, with just three votes overall, narrowly edging out Ottawa.
If we replace each Penguins vote with the next least favorite team, the order doesn’t change much. Philly becomes the least liked team by a decent margin. The “no one” response, here showing that the respondent indicated no other dislikes save for Pittsburgh, is much lower than it was in the favorites graph. This means that more respondents voted for multiple least-favorite teams than voted for multiple most-favorite teams.
Let’s look at some graphs that compare the favorite responses to the least-favorite responses. Here, we have a ‘favorability rating’ for each team – the percent of times they were mentioned among the favorites versus the percent of times they were mentioned among least favorite.
Based on some semi-arbitrary dividing lines, we can group the teams as follows.
There are some surprises here with Buffalo, Calgary, and Minnesota in the ‘love’ category. Despite being the most positively mentioned Metro team besides Washington, Carolina drops into the ‘dislike’ category. How does this happen? Well, they were one of the most mentioned teams overall, as shown below.
This graph shows us that respondents focus their dislike on a few teams (the teams in the lower right: Bruins, Flyers, Rangers), while their preferences are scattered among many teams (the teams in the upper left – pretty much half the league). Only the Avalanche and Kraken are mentioned often and positively. All of this can be summed up in the graphic below.
This map shows the number of responses (size) and relative favorability (color) of each team, by home location of course. Once again, I have excluded Pittsburgh and Washington as they would make the chart unreadable. For the New York teams, the small green dot is the Devils, the small red dot is the Islanders, and the large red dot is the Rangers. With the exception of Vegas, all of the least liked teams are concentrated on the east coast. The lone exception is the Devils; I expect this could change quickly should they keep up their hot streak deep into the playoffs. Also, I am contractually and morally obligated to add #SiegenthalerForNorris here. In general, it is pretty easy to see that most teams are either generally liked or generally disliked. But what about those greenish-orange dots in the middle? Well…
These are the three teams that were mentioned frequently and also did not have a general consensus in either direction. Toronto makes sense to me, they are the big-market team in a country full of hockey fans, leading to people either loving or hating them. For Edmonton I assume this is because people either love McDavid as an absolute wizard of the game, the likes of which we won’t see until Tom Wilson is back from injury, or people just hate that he isn’t on their favorite team. As for Chicago, I guess some people like them because they’re another large-market team. As to why people dislike them….well, pick just about any reason.
And now: teams no one cares about!
These are the five teams mentioned least frequently in the data. Props to Columbus for having so few votes that they weren’t worth adding to the Contentious Teams chart above. And for being the most recent team to knock the Caps out of the playoffs, I’m quite surprised the Panthers received so little hate.
Thanks for getting all the way through the article! Got any more questions or ideas on ways to view the data? Drop a note in the comments and I will see if I can get you an answer.
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