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Last year's ranking: 119
Title track: 121
Fan relations: 117
Stadium experience: 109
Bang for the buck: 122
For years, there's been an evil genius to how cannily the Maple Leafs have exploited the fact that hockey is the quasi-official religion of Ontario. Team execs are well aware that local fans who want to see a good, young team in person will enthusiastically attend games of the Toronto Marlies -- the only AHL affiliate that plays in the same town as its parent club. Along with a huge base of corporate ticket buyers in Toronto, that has allowed the Leafs to jack ticket prices up to an average of $122.20, a stunning 34 percent higher than any other team in the NHL.
But for the first time in a long while, Leafs fans at least can hope for sustained improvement on the ice. In April, after the club's second late-season collapse in the past three years, Toronto hired Brendan Shanahan as club president. Shanahan, a smart 45-year-old Hall of Famer, has replaced all of the Leafs' assistant coaches and assistant GMs. He has promised prospects a chance to compete for jobs. He has even hired analytics advisers, finally dragging the famously stats-phobic Leafs into the era of modern data. And he has overseen the creation of a "Legends Row" of bronze statues to honor former Toronto greats. Ticket prices aren't going down any time soon, but the Leafs just might be on the verge of giving fans a lot more bang for their loonie.