This story is part of ESPN The Magazine's Oct. 12 Owners Issue. Subscribe today!
San Jose Sharks
Title track: 99
Fan relations: 80
Stadium experience: 65
Bang for the buck: 37
Change from last year: -57
The Sharks owe a debt of gratitude to their football neighbors in nearby San Francisco. If not for the 76-point plunge by the 49ers, the NHL's Sharks would own the biggest drop in our overall standings. It's a precipitous fall for a franchise that has traditionally graded well in our rankings, placing no lower than 32nd in seven of the past eight years and as high as 12th in 2010.
The Sharks deserve some credit for not raising season-ticket prices last season after the playoff collapse against the Kings. The average ticket price of $54.68 is about $8 below the league average, and especially reasonable given the high cost of living in Silicon Valley. As a result, the bang for the buck remained relatively steady at 37th. The Sharks have rising stars in Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl, and they scored well in categories on likability.
Frustration set in for Sharks fans, who saw a streak of 10 straight playoff seasons end in the spring. That followed a first-round ouster in 2014 in which San Jose became just the fourth club to lose a seven-game series after winning the first three games. Longtime coach Todd McClellan left the club by "mutual agreement," but owner Hasno Plattner retained GM Doug Wilson -- and that did not go over well. The Sharks experienced a 65-point drop in ownership and a 62-point shave in coaching (in which they received the worst score in hockey in "leadership from the coach.") When Plattner posted a letter on the team's website proclaiming Wilson's tenure has been a success, one fan, Florian Andrade, responded with, "Fire him so hard he bounces."
SAP Center only opened in 1993, but it already is one of the oldest arenas in the NHL, and its 39-point drop in stadium experience demonstrates the need for a little renovation. "The arena is missing some of the more modern touches, and the concrete and steel look is a bit outdated, but that stuff is less important," blogged one fan. There was speculation the Sharks might relocate -- which helps explain a massive 67-point dive in fan relations -- before Plattner agreed to a new long-term lease with the city of San Jose that will also help pay for some arena improvements.