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Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: September 7, 12:08 PM ET
No. 14: Nashville Predators

By Jeff Gold
ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 18
Title track: 61
Ownership: 35
Coaching: 17
Players: 30
Fan relations: 27
Affordability: 7
Stadium experience: 25
Bang for the buck: 22

Voting was done during the first two weeks of May, so Predators fans weighed in after witnessing just the second playoff series win in franchise history, when Ryan Suter was still part of their team. That said, finishing in the top half in all eight categories -- regardless of timing -- is impressive. Nashville is ranked fourth overall among NHL teams. The Predators are the rare team that has shown loyalty to a coach, as Barry Trotz has been at the helm since the organization's inception in 1998. Fans also appreciate the affordable cost of going to the game. Ticket prices ($51.04), hot dogs ($4.25) and beer ($6.75) are all below the league average. According to Jessica Jones, the Predators' corporate communications director, Nashville had 25 sellouts (a franchise best) this past regular season and sold out all five of its home playoff games. The Predators are the only team in the Western Conference to have won a playoff round in each of the past two seasons. A popular promotion was the "Design the Mask Campaign" that allowed fans to make submissions to create a goalie mask. Nashville college student Liz Guilyard's template won, and goalie Pekka Rinne wore her design in the Predators' 3-2 win over the Red Wings on April 11. The victory foreshadowed the five-game playoff series win over Detroit. Now only if the Preds could Design a Stanley Cup.