The “Picking your Team” series is the uneducated views of Mr. Puck Paddy helping you, the uncommitted/new hockey fan, find the new love of your life. It’s like tinder, except with less pictures and more terrible analysis….
Cal-if-orn-iaaaa, Knows How To Party
Now we’re talking! Expansion franchises out West weren’t always the toast of the hockey world, but the Anaheim/LA/San Jose triumvirate are where it’s at in 2014. Granted, the “East Coast Bias” may be in affect throughout North America , and for European’s those extra 3 hours are a bit of a killer, but if you can stay up that late to watch these guys…well, you’ll be happy you did.
22) Anaheim Ducks
To those of us not au fait with Hockey, the Ducks are obviously attractive thanks to the work of Coach Bombay. Re-branded, yes, but their success has been tangible of late and despite not being able to kick back to the heights of a few years ago when they won the cup, this team could be on the cusp this year. Get excited people.
Likeability Rating: B Plus
23) San Jose Sharks
If Anaheim are rising, then San Jose will be sinking in their place. Their downfall might be a bit premature, and certainly exaggerated, but they suffered the indignity of throwing away a 3 game play-off lead to the eventual champion LA Kings, and now are firmly planted with the Choker tag. Hard to argue given their recent history, but they’re still a good team with top, if not aging, players. They are gritty and grizzled, though.
Likeability Rating: B minus
24) Los Angeles Kings
Ok, I know they are the champions right now, and so like Chicago it might not be fair to get on board after a couple of parades, but damn this is a slick team. You like a hard-working, grinding style of hockey? They’ve got it. You want some slick puck handling? Oh baby, wait til you see Drew Doughty. Never say die attitude and a will to win? See their 2014 Stanley Cup playoff run. They’ve sweet jerseys, too. They’ve got it all. Bastards.
Likeability Rating: A plus
Somewhere in Middle-America
I guess this is the bucket that fits “everyone else” in to. When I was a new fan, a lot of these teams flew as under-the-radar as it got, which in theory could have made them a little bit less desirable to follow than some of the aforementioned hotter spots in the league. What you have below, however, is a relatively solid group of decent hockey clubs that may raise the eyebrow of intrigue amongst a hockey fan if you’re a random follower of one of these teams.
25) Colorado Avalanche
Maybe the best case for supporting the Colorado Avalanche could start from behind the bench instead of on-the-ice. As a new fan, there aren’t many old names that really resonate with me in the hockey world, but Patrick Roy was one of them that did attain some notoriety to the casual observer. A hall-of-fame goaltender with a hall-of-fame temper, Roy’s first season behind the bench turned out to be an exciting one where he brought a young team to a surprise play-off berth, and oversaw some great play along the way. Experts predict a potential regression to the mean this year, but the Av’s are a tasty prospect going forward with young MacKinnon leading the way.
Likeability Rating: B Plus
26) St. Louis Blues
Do they play the Blues in St. Louis? Who cares! They (sort of) wear blue! But they also (sort of) don’t get the job done in the play-off’s, which is something to care about recently. A recent perennial play-off contender, you can’t help but feel they’d take a little bit more heat from the press if San Jose didn’t up the ante on the underachievement stakes year after year. They’re positioned nicely again for another shot at the big time, and they’ve got a lot nice players (including the magnificently named T.J Oshie) but there’s something about them that’s kinda uninteresting that I can’t quite put my finger on…
Likeability Rating: B minus.
27) Minnesota Wild
A hockey hot-bed such as Minnesota is an interesting team to get behind these days, and after securing the services of two top-end free agents a couple of years ago in Parise and Sutter, this team propelled themselves in to Western conference relevance. Last year was the first time they really started to show their potential, and the addition of Thomas Vanek this year could be a nice one to help them push on. A team on the up.
Likeability Rating: C plus
28) Nashville Predators
Ok, don’t hate but I just do not care about this team one bit. Shea Weber could be a top 3 defenseman in the league, and they have exciting American prospect Seth Jones also on their blue line, but I’m sorry, I just don’t care. I don’t really know where Nashville is, I don’t really like their sweaters, and I don’t ever watch their games. But why would I? It’s a hockey team in Nashville.
Likeability Rating: D
29) Carolina Hurricanes
The ‘Canes are a little bit more of an interesting prospect, but frankly, not by a whole lot. The Staal brothers (a big family of hockey players in Canada) added a little bit of weight to this franchise a couple of years back when they joined forces, and with the backbone of Cam Ward in nets this team was teetering on the brink of something worthwhile, but…it just didn’t really happen. Now they’ve loaded their roster with players hardly good enough to play for the Leafs, so the future does not look too bright…
Likeability Rating: C
30) Columbus Blue Jackets
The best until last? Well…no, not really. But to be fair to Columbus, their most recent jaunt in to the Stanley Cup playoffs opened a lot of pundits eyes to the measure of their franchise, as well as the atmosphere they created in their arena against the Penguins. It could be argued that some of CBJ’s home games were as raucous as they came in the play-offs, and their series with Pittsburgh ended up being one of the most compelling of the season. Tragically they were ousted by Sid the Kid’s men, but they’ve made a few interesting additions in the off season that definitely have me interested. This is a small market team for sure, but they’re moving in the right direction and while you may not see any immediate success on the horizon, there are certainly worse places to hitch your wagon.
Likeability Grade: C