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Last year's ranking: 8
Title track: 12
Fan relations: 6
Stadium experience: 23
Bang for the buck: 2
While Boston and Minnesota have long laid claim to being hotbeds of hockey, Southern California has made a strong push the past few seasons, thanks to the Stanley Cup success of both the Ducks and their crosstown rivals, the reigning champion Kings. The Ducks, who won a Stanley Cup in 2007, finished with the best record in the Western Conference in 2013-14, as Ryan Getzlaf (87 points) and Corey Perry (43 goals) re-established themselves as one of the top one-two scoring punches in the NHL.
Despite all their on-ice success, the Ducks, as a franchise in a nontraditional hockey market, have to hustle more to attract fans than those tradition-rich teams up north and back east. So Anaheim has invested millions in initiatives like a 41-team high school league it started in 2008 and continues to fund. Top players like Getzlaf and Perry have led free learn-how-to-play clinics. And the Ducks remain affordable; their average ticket price ($42.24) and total cost per game ($63.24) are among the lowest in the league, which helps explain why they offer the second-best bang for the buck in the four sports. The team's "no surprise fees" policy -- which guarantees no unexpected add-ons when buying tickets directly from the team's site -- has been a hit with fans, who ranked the team first in the NHL in ease of ticket sales. The Ducks landed prized center Ryan Kesler via trade during the offseason, ensuring they'll again be on any short list of Stanley Cup favorites in 2014-15. They've become a blueprint for building a model NHL franchise, on and off the ice. Not bad for a team originally named after a bunch of peewee players from Minnesota.