No. 17: St. Louis Blues

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 7, 2012, 12:13 PM ET
By Eddie Matz | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 49
Title Track: 75
Ownership: 39
Coaching: 12
Players: 38
Fan relations: 23
Affordability: 25
Stadium experience: 77
Bang for the buck: 10

The eighth time is the charm. At least that's what Blues boosters are hoping. In the 45 years since hockey came to Missouri, the team has had eight different ownership groups, or five more than the combined total of the Red Wings and Blackhawks over the same period. The latest proprietors, a conglomerate of Lou-minaries led by businessman Tom Stillman, which bought the team in May for $120 million, get an initial thumbs-up from fans for being from around the way. Says stltoday.com user Mary Simons: "It's nice to have a group of local investors who are committed to Blues hockey." It's also nice to have Ken Hitchcock, or so say the masses (coaching rank of 12). In his first season on the Blues bench, the whip-cracking 2012 Jack Adams Award winner, who worked his charges so hard that the practice ice had to be resurfaced during a 90-minute April practice, led the club to the second-best season in franchise history (109 points), not to mention its first playoff series win in a decade. All for the low, low price of $41.57 per ticket (15 bucks below league average). Now that's charming.