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Thrashers Could Use Some Facebook Friends

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So I opened up a Facebook account this week. I added the Atlanta Thrashers as one of my friends/interests. Right now the Thrashers have 3,210 Facebook friends. By comparison the Pittsburgh Steelers--one of the most successful franchises in the most popular sports league in North Amercia--have 200,631 friends. Ouch.

This got me thinking--how do the Thrashers compare to other non-traditional markets--and before you know I looked up all 30 teams. So here's the Facebook Friends NHL Rankings.

Team FBF
MON 153,599
VAN 87,638
DET 79,194
PIT 73,522
CHI 56,171
BOS 48,046
TOR 36,029
PHI 31,301
WSH 31,177
BUF 28,644
SJS 27,125
MIN 24,126
CGY 19,872
COL 19,285
EDM 19,024
NYR 17,879
STL 15,688
DAL 15,502
OTT 15,456
CAR 14,116
ANA 12,984
NJD 9,684
NYI 8,148
NSH 6,625
TBL 5,948
CBJ 5,870
FLA 3,230
ATL 3,210
LAK 1,931
PHX 1,798


So what does this mean? Is this useful in anyway? Attendance figures are a popular way to measure support for a NHL team but they are contaminated by freebies, discounts and corporate buyers. I find the Facebook friends interesting because it requires the fans to seek out and select that option on their own. It is a user driven measure of interest.

On the downside the facebook numbers have a lot of "selection bias" in them--in plain English--young people in their 20s and 30s are more likely to be on Facebook and older people (the kind who can afford $70 tickets) are much less likely to be on Facebook.

On the other hand, Atlanta regularly ranks high on lists of the most "wired" cities in the USA. Other wired cities like Washington and San Jose are beating the pants off Atlanta right now.

So what do these figures mean--if anything? I'd say they are one indicator of interest in a hockey club among young people. They also appear to be greatly affected by winning. The bottom five teams (Phoenix, Kings, Thrashers, Panthers, Blue Jackets) have not experienced much on-ice success over the last several years. I've said it before "winning covers a multitude of hockey sins."

In the meantime, can't we round up 21 more people and pass Florida before the week is out?