FanSided 250: Toronto Maple Leafs Lacked Buzz Through 2020

FanSided 250 has been released and the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves near the bottom of 2020’s overall rankings.

Although the Toronto Maple Leafs may be number one in our hearts, FanSided has determined they actually rank 194th across the collective fandom of their audience. Now, bear in mind, FanSided is a network of sites that delves into topics far beyond just hockey.

For instance, the categories that are broken down for this list alone include celebrities, college, comics, gaming, MLB, movies, music, NFL, NHL, pro basketball, soccer, sports figures, and TV. So, with that in mind, perhaps the Maple Leafs ranking at all should be a win in and of itself.

However, as passionate as we know this fanbase is about their Maple Leafs, obviously this disappointment has to be dissected a little further to determine how and why this team failed to earn a better fate for this year’s list. It’s not all bad.

How Toronto Got Here

Before we break things down to help come to terms with this lacklustre result, let’s gain a better understanding of what it all means. FanSided has this to say about the annual list:

The FanSided 250 (previously called the Fandom 250) is our annual celebration of fandom. Our list has evolved into a ranking of the “hottest” 250 fandoms of the year — whereas previous years’ lists have focused on identifying and ranking the “best” fan bases, this year we have decided to put more emphasis than ever on “buzz.”

First and foremost, let’s not forget that Toronto didn’t actually make the playoffs after losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. Sure, there may have been a buzz for this team while they were playing, but being one of the first out of this year’s postseason didn’t give people much of a reason to continue caring.

It’s not solely about their failure to bypass the Blue Jackets, as other factors are at play with why the Maple Leafs find themselves in 194th. Most notably, let’s not forget that this list isn’t all about hockey. And when you broaden your thinking to all the fanbases being considered, it’s easy to see how other sports stole the spotlight.

Hockey Fails to Garner Focus

As much as we up here in Canada love our hockey, let alone its many passionate fans around the world, the reality is that it’s just not the focus when it comes to American media. Looking at the FanSided 250 list alone, the top five spots are filled as follows:
5th – Los Angeles Dodgers
4th – Lebron James
3rd – The Child
2nd – Patrick Mahomes
1st – Los Angeles Lakers

In fact, the most successful NHL team of 2020 barely made it into the top 100, as the Tampa Bay Lightning landed in the 98th spot. Somewhat of a shock to hockey fans of any team, I’m sure.

A team that progressed like the Lightning have over recent years, who overcame all they did to capture this year’s Stanley Cup, and helped Steven Stamkos finally hoist one, being beat out by a character from Star Wars certainly can’t sit well with our sport’s most faithful followers.

However, as the reality sets in on which fandoms led the way with worldwide buzz and how hockey’s backers compare, using a common ground for gauging where the Maple Leafs landed should paint a more pleasant picture.

It Could Be Worse

When considering Toronto’s overall scoring for this year’s list, there are a few factors that are ranked. We’ve already seen that they landed 194th out of a possible 250 spots, but that’s actually the worst of it when reviewing how they did across other focus areas and when you isolate their results against other NHL teams.

First of all, it would be a disserve to neglect to mention one of Toronto’s most famous celebrity fans. For the sake of buzz, the fact Austin Powers is a fan can’t be understated:

Mike Myers is more than the mind behind Wayne’s World and Austin Powers, he’s a Toronto Maple Leafs superfan. The Canadian comedian has been a staple at Leafs games, and has been an ambassador not only for his hometown team but for the sport of hockey as a whole.

Back to the reality of the ranking, the Toronto Maple Leafs found themselves in 7th under the NHL umbrella. Fittingly, the six teams that placed higher all experienced greater success last season, let alone throughout the playoffs.

In fact, all six teams ahead of them have made it to a Stanley Cup Final in recent years with three having been crowned champions throughout the past 10 years. And, of course, the Lightning currently owns the top spot amongst all NHL teams.

Whenever Toronto isn’t winning, knowing a rival isn’t either brings a sense of comfort. So with the Montreal Canadiens being near the bottom at 20th, it’s certainly a bonus that Leafs fans can collectively celebrate.

Next, the Toronto Maple Leafs also fared better when it comes to their search score, which is as it sounds in that it measures the respective searching being done to find that subject matter. Ending up in 107th in this capacity is a much more positive ranking to reflect upon than being in 194th overall.

With all that said, being near the top amongst those in their respective sport and having 4.3 million fans follow them across social along the way should be victory enough for Toronto faithful. As we look ahead to anticipated success in the years to come, count on future FanSided 250 lists aligning more accurately.

We’ve now gone from making fans feel even bleaker than they already did following a disappointing finish to the 2019-20 campaign, to embracing the fact that Toronto’s outlook isn’t all bad. And if we want to see the Maple Leafs land higher on this list next year, let’s get behind them and create more buzz to make it their reality.