No. 37: Anaheim Ducks

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 7, 2012, 12:08 PM ET
By Jeff Gold | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 23
Title track: 34
Ownership: 47
Coaching: 55
Players: 64
Fan relations: 39
Affordability: 38
Stadium experience: 59
Bang for the buck: 49

The Ducks achieved a respectable ranking by being a model of consistency across our eight categories, finishing in the top half in seven of them. (Their rankings were all between 34 and 64.) But it's no surprise that Anaheim's top rank came in title track, since it was only five years ago that Scott Niedermayer hoisted the Stanley Cup, and that came a mere three seasons after Anaheim thrilled its fans with a surprising run to the Finals. The Ducks helped their supporters by reducing prices by an average of 11.6 percent, but the fans didn't seem to appreciate the gesture, as the team surprisingly fell in affordability. The biggest issues facing this team are coaching and personnel. Anaheim made a midseason coaching change last year, replacing longtime boss Randy Carlyle -- the man who led the Ducks to their only Cup in franchise history -- with the loquacious Bruce Boudreau. The Ducks improved under Boudreau but not enough to avoid missing the playoffs for only the second time in the past seven seasons. A looming fallout with forward Bobby Ryan, who said he'd be open to a trade after scoring at least 30 goals in the past four seasons, hasn't helped confidence in the roster, and losing phenom prospect Justin Schultz to the Oilers, after he elected not to sign a contract with the Ducks, was a significant blow. If it keeps going like this, next year "respectable" could be a wistful memory.