I've stayed pretty quiet vis a vis the Flames for the past month, mainly because the Flames blogosphere is mostly consumed with teeth gnashing and unhappy post-mortems. All justified, mind you, but at heart I'm an optimist so I thought I'd just sit and listen for a while rather than dive in. Besides, Robert and Hayley and Richard and Kent over at that other place are all much better than me at doing the post-mortems - I appreciate the advanced stats and think there is value in them but I can't make them dance like they can. So, I haven't had much to add, other than it feels like a bad time to be a Flames fan.
But while watching the little kid with the Boston Bruin jersey crying his eyes out in the stands after game 7 of the Bruin-Philly series, I realized it could be worse. I'm never one to say I'd rather miss the playoffs than lose in the first round, because more Flame's hockey is always preferable to less. However, I was in the stands when they lost game 7 in double OT to San Jose back in '95 and I'm pretty sure I felt worse than I do right now. So, for fun, I thought I'd give my opinion of fan-bases that are happier than us and those that have it worse, as of right now. I'm basing it on how the last year went, how it ended, and how the future looks. If nothing else, it will remind us all that we're lucky not to be Leaf fans.
In order from happiest to saddest groups of fans:
Montreal - Playing with house money, only team in Canada left
Philly - making history, also playing with house money and has great shot at surprise Cup final
Chicago - Good, still young team, and can enjoy it after years of crap
San Jose - Always good, finally advanced past 2nd round, must feel like this is the year. Still a little leery though, like they're waiting for the other shoe to fall.
Pittsburgh - Coming off a Cup, still have Crosby and Malkin
Los Angeles - Finally made playoffs, look like next stud team (unless they sign Kovalchuk)
Colorado - They're happy because they think they're back from the one year black hole, ready to be perennial powers. They're wrong, but they don't know that so they're happy!
Vancouver - Sure they're treading water, but should be able to reign over NW at least another year. And they have some damn good regular season players.
Detroit - The fans are spoiled and probably aren't happy, but screw them - they should be. Other than having to watch Bertuzzi (who admittedly didn't suck completely in the playoffs).
Phoenix - Knocked down a bit from the season-long high, because all six fans have to put up with another summer of wondering whether they'll have a team, plus they're going to miss the playoffs next year.
Ottawa - Had a nice year, not sure it's repeatable but at least they made the playoffs, plus they won't have to deal with the Heatley stuff this summer.
New Jersey - Playoff disappointment sucks, but they're always near the top of the East so they always have a shot at being that crappy conference's Stanley Cup rep.
Buffalo - Similar situation to Jersey.
Nashville - Not sure how it feels to be a fan of this team. Wait a second, yes I do. They make the playoffs nearly every year and always lose in the first round. Seems familiar...
St. Louis - Of all teams that missed the playoffs, they should feel best about their chances for next year. They can look back at this year with the injuries and really bad start and reasonably think they should have been in Colorado's spot.
Washington - They should be happier than a non-playoff team, but they're too busy worrying about if they have what it takes to get over the hump and if their system and goaltending are both good enough.
Tampa Bay - New owner, seemingly finally some sanity in the front office, Stamkos, Hedman, St. Louis...
Canes - One year removed from semi-final run, the fans are used to the schizophrenic nature of this team and think they'll be back.
Calgary - Sucks missing the playoffs but there is still enough talent around that with some better luck year two of Butter can be better than year one. I'm guessing this would go up some if Daz was relieved of his duties.
Anaheim/Minnesota/Rangers/Dallas - All similar to Flames, think next year will be better than this year, have some recent history to celebrate, reasonably good organizations (well, maybe not the Rangers). I'm sure their fans feel about the same as the Flames fans.
Oilers - This year sucked, but there's some talent in that pipeline and eventually they'll be out of salary cap hell. Would be higher if there wasn't the sneaking suspicion management will screw it all up.
Florida - Always missing the playoffs but never bad enough to get the really high draft choice. Like the Flames of '97-'03. This really sucks.
Atlanta/Columbus - See Florida
Bruins - Were lucky to make the playoffs, and then a goal away from the conference finals in Game 4 they pissed it all away. There are no fans of any team who feel worse right now.
Leafs - Except maybe the team with the high draft choice that they gave to those same Bruins.