Earlier today, Justin Bourne of Backhand Shelf published a piece ranking the desirability of all 30 NHL cities (er, "cities") to UFAs. From an unbiased standpoint, it was a pretty interesting thought project, and one I'd like to try to replicate at some point: how exactly DO you come up with a mental algorithm balancing city desirability and team legitimacy, fanbase awesometude and front office competence?
Bourne, of course, had the absolutely correct answer of Boston for #1 ranked city. From the article:
The pros of choosing Boston to me seem pretty endless. You’re pulling on the respected logo of a team who’s had success in recent years. You get to live in Boston, a wonderful city. Despite some serious house-cleaning in the off-season, there’s no doubt that the team is going to be competitive over the next few seasons. That’s not to say they’re going to win the Cup, but they’ll have as much of a chance as anyone. They have a good GM who takes winning seriously, and is always trying to improve his club. The team will spend to the cap. You have a great fan base. Your travel is nearly as good as it gets, in that clump on the east coast. You don’t have to like their owner to acknowledge that the Bruins are a rock-solid organization.
Those are all fantastic reasons. The history of the Bruins is 90 years long, dotted with awesomeness and great stories. Boston the city is the bomb dot com. And Peter Chiarelli is a borderline genius as GM. We understand that Bourne had a pretty lengthy list of cities to insult after listing Boston as the greatest (Sorry Rangers and Kings, but to quote the great Nelly: Two is not a winner and three nobody remembers), so here's a list of additional reasons UFAs would list Boston as the greatest city to play in:
- You don't have to play against Zdeno Chara again for the foreseeable future! That has to be a perk, right? Especially for those stanchion-fearing UFAs out there. That's probably why Benoit Pouliot signed in 2011-2012.
- You're probably from Canada; our weather here is perfect for you! Peter Chiarelli and co have a penchant for drafting/bringing in players from Canada (the OHL, specifically.) Knowing what the weather is like there in January-February, I can safely say that except for that one freak snowstorm last year that postponed the Tampa Bay game, the weather here is practically balmy compared to, say, London.
- Speaking of Gregory Campbell, you get to play for a team that gets calls in its favor because Colin Campbell's son plays here! (This is a joke. Seriously.)
- If you get hurt, you have access to the greatest dessert cart in all the NHL! This is not a joke. Seriously.
- For those players with kids: our aquarium just got a serious business upgrade! Take your kids to see the penguins. Oh, and suck it, Nathan Horton.
- For those players with older kids: your kids can go to any of a number of prestigious universities in the same city you play in! Here in Boston, we're all about convenience. Some of them are even on the same train line as your own TD Garden! And just ask Andrew Ference, our public transportation is pretty boss.
- You're playing in a hockey-mad city. For real. There are about eighty bajillion teams in the Greater Boston Area, from colleges to the EJHL to beer leagues and everything in between. And yet if privacy is your thing, it's pretty easy to get. It's not like those cesspool canadian cities like Montreal, where insane paparazzi follow you around like packs of dogs.
- Want a condo with a roofdeck view of the ocean? Don't go to LA. You can get that here. With less smog and more cute little islands and whale watching tours and stuff.
- You get to play with a pretty good team/competent front office. I mean, that's sort of important. Yeah, the team's owned by a shitbag, but how often do you actually have to interact with said shitbag? The guys you interact with every day are flawless human beings like Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask and David Krejci on the ice among others, and Cam Neely (bless his heart) and Peter Chiarelli off the ice. And let's be real: everyone wants to be BFFs with guys like Bergeron and Neely.
- Bostonians are pretty damn cool. The world got a big taste of this in April, but in general, we tend to buck the stereotype of the cold, unfriendly northeasterner. We help tourists when they look lost. We band together when we're hurt. We take care of our own. And in hockey more than any other sport, when you play for this city, you become part of "our own." And from what I can tell, that's a really neat thing.
- We're not Montreal. Did I mention we're not Montreal? Who needs French, anyway?