ESPN names Maple Leafs worst franchise in North America Staff

9/7/2012 4:11:18 PM

The Toronto Maple Leafs have hit a new low, at least according to ESPN Magazine.

The American sports publication has branded the Leafs as the worst professional sports franchise in their annual 'Ultimate Standings.'

The ranking, based on a variety of factors include categories such as 'fan relations,' 'ownership,' 'affordability,' 'stadium experience' and 'title track record," amongst others.

The Leafs did not crack the Top 100 in any one of the magazine's eight core ranking categories, finishing three spots behind ESPN's next-worst NHL franchise, the New York Islanders.

It is the Leafs' fifth-straight year as the lowest-ranked NHL franchise. In 2011, the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals were ranked below the Leafs in the overall count.

The Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens were also among the NHL's six worst franchises and could not crack the Top 100 overall ranking in the four major sports.

The No. 1 franchise in North American pro sports, according to the ranking, is the Oklahoma City Thunder. The highest-ranked NHL franchise on the list is the Phoenix Coyotes.

The top NHL franchises according to the magazine's individual categories are as follows:

Bang for the Buck (wins weighted against revenues), Players (on-field effort, total 'likability), Coaching and Affordability: Phoenix Coyotes.

Fan Relations and Ownership: Detroit Red Wings.

Stadium Experience: Minnesota Wild.

Title Track (Championships won or expected in the lifetimes of current fans): Pittsburgh Penguins.

As for Canada's other pro sports teams, the Ottawa Senators were the highest-ranked, checking in at 42nd overall. The Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks were listed 91st and 92nd respectively.

Outside hockey, the Toronto Blue Jays were ranked 79th and the Toronto Raptors were 103rd.

No Canadian franchise cracked the Top 20 in any single category.