No. 60: Buffalo Sabres

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 7, 2012, 12:10 PM ET
By Eddie Matz | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 11
Title track: 92
Ownership: 32
Coaching: 78
Players: 111
Fan relations: 59
Affordability: 26
Stadium experience: 73
Bang for the buck: 30

Hockey fans in Nickel City appreciate that new owner Terry Pegula isn't nickel-and-diming them. The energy magnate and former season-ticket holder, who in 1983 told his business partner, "If I ever have more than two nickels to my name, I'm going to buy the Buffalo Sabres one day," did just that last year, then proceeded to invest millions of nickels into an arena makeover that included new paint (blue and gold, natch), new locker rooms (cost: $6 million) and new victuals (the Main & Fillmore Hot Dog comes standard with chili, cheese, mustard and onions), not to mention a new name (adios HSBC Arena, hello First Niagara Center). All while keeping ticket prices nearly 20 bucks below the league average. Still, the Sabres plummeted 49 spots, tied for the seventh-biggest free fall in this year's rankings, thanks to an antsy fan base (title track: 92) whose team hasn't won a playoff series since 2007, whose city hasn't won a title of any kind since the Bills were AFL champs in 1965, and whose fans are fed up with watching soft hockey (see lack of retaliation following Milan Lucic's hit on G Ryan Miller). Says sabrespace.com user ParkMeadow: "Like most Buffalo sports fans, all I ask is for my team to display heart and effort ... and these Sabres show neither." If only we had a nickel for every time we heard that.