Ultimate Standings: Maple Leafs worst out of 122 pro sports teams

AP Photo/Nathan Denette

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Toronto Maple Leafs

Overall: 122
Title track: 120
Ownership: 115
Coaching: 38
Players: 122
Fan relations: 122
Affordability: 122
Stadium experience: 116
Bang for the buck: 122
Change from last year: 0

The hapless, entitled Leafs have owned last place in this ranking in three of the past four years. No franchise in the four major sports leagues charges more for delivering less ($139 total cost per game for a club that has failed to qualify for the playoffs in nine of the past 10 seasons). The dream management crew second-year team president Brendan Shanahan has assembled -- GM Lou Lamoriello and head coach Mike Babcock both arrived this summer -- means there is finally real cause for optimism in a city that calls itself the Hockey Capital of the World.

What's good

Babcock's hiring led to a jump in coaching from 113 to 38, and for good reason. The former Detroit Red Wings boss is a proven winner, having won a Stanley Cup in the Motor City in 2009 and Olympic gold medals with Canada in 2010 and '14. He also has led Canada to an IIHF world championship, making him the only coach to win all three titles. The question is how long it will take Babcock to put his stamp on the team. Enigmatic forward Phil Kessel was traded to the Penguins in July, but mostly it's the same team that finished 14th in the 15-team Eastern Conference last season (and the same roster that finished last in hockey in likability, effort and professionalism in our voting).

What's bad

No matter how much the Maple Leafs improve on the ice, their obscene average ticket prices ($113.66, higher than every pro team except the New England Patriots, New York Giants and New York Knicks, and $30 more than the second-most expensive hockey ticket) will prevent them from ever being in the top third of our Ultimate Standings. The dead-last finish in affordability, bang for the buck and fan relations -- because why should management care when every game sells out, no matter what? -- are functions of hockey's mystical hold on Southern Ontario. Add in the rink-side soulless corporate set at Air Canada Centre, and it's no wonder hordes of Leafs die-hards find it preferable (and often cheaper) to travel to Buffalo or Detroit to see their team play.

What's new

Besides coaching, not much: Title track was the only other category in which the Leafs improved, and that was by one measly spot (and there was little room to fall, since four of the eight categories ranked 120th or below last year, too). But Shanahan, Babcock and Lamoriello are three of the sharpest hockey minds around. It might not happen this season, but the smart money says they'll find a way to turn the Leafs toward a more dignified standing.

Full rankings