No. 19: Pittsburgh Penguins

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 7, 2012, 12:08 PM ET
By Scott T. Miller | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 10
Title track: 7
Ownership: 6
Coaching: 34
Players: 18
Fan relations: 6
Affordability: 70
Stadium experience: 12
Bang for the buck: 40

Don't misinterpret the Penguins' lowest ranking in the standings since 2008; they're still one of the NHL's model franchises. Last year, the Pens won 51 regular-season games -- their most in 19 seasons -- and their 286 victories since 2006 is the fourth most in the NHL over that span. Co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle followed up their 2009 Stanley Cup by opening the glimmering $321 million Consol Energy Center in 2010, which silenced any talks that the franchise was leaving town. And unlike other franchises with new stadiums (see Cowboys, Dallas), outrageous price hikes haven't followed (yet). Pittsburgh's average season tickets are slightly below the NHL average, and fans seemed pleased with the concessions ($2.50 hot dogs, $5 beers) -- their affordability rating is nearly 18 percent above the league average. So it's easy to see why the Penguins have sold out 251 consecutive games, and why finishing No. 19 in the standings is considered a down year for Pittsburgh.