Print and Go Back ESPN.com: SportsNation [Print without images]

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Updated: September 23, 12:35 PM ET
No. 9: Ottawa Senators

By Scott T. Miller
ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 42
Title track: 50
Ownership: 18
Coaching: 18
Players: 30
Fan relations: 16
Affordability: 33
Stadium Experience 55
Bang for the Buck 7

Two years ago, the Senators compiled 92 points in 82 regular-season games (1.12 ppg) and squeaked into the playoffs as the eighth seed. In last season's lockout-shortened 48-game campaign, Ottawa managed only slightly more success (56 points, 1.16 ppg, seventh seed). So why then did the Sens jump 33 slots in our standings? In short, ticket prices. In 2011-12, their average ticket, $55.51, was only 2.8 percent below the league average. Last season, owner Eugene Melnyk slashed prices to $42.09, 31 percent below the NHL average. The interesting thing is that Melnyk had little incentive to do so: The Senators have ranked in the top seven in attendance six of the last nine seasons. This all helps explain why a team that's not quite championship-ready (50th in the title track category) could have the second-highest ranking in bang for the buck in the NHL. The fans keep coming back no matter the quality of the on-ice action. Who are we kidding? Winning helps.