Is Detroit The Best Hockey City in America?
Detroit didn't have super high expectations to start the 2023-24 NHL campaign. Sure, they were supposed to be much improved, but this start has been incredible. The Red Wings finished the month of October 6-3 averaging 4 goals per game, good for third in the league.
While head coach Derek Lalonde has his players topping out their potential, revitalizing the passion of the fan base in that effort, it begs the question, is Detroit the best hockey city in America?
Prior to the hockey season getting started, WalletHub conducted a study to determine the best hockey cities in the country, a list Detroit would surely have to rank highly on even before the Red Wings came out on fire.
The study looked at the success of NHL and collegiate hockey teams in each city to determine which is the best city for hockey fans in America. In all, 75 cities across the country qualified for the study. NHL representation weighed heavier than collegiate, with aspects such as number of teams, historical performance, ticket prices and fan engagement playing a big role in determining the final scores to rank the cities by.
Detroit, home of an "Original Six" franchise as the most American Stanley Cup championships, landed at No. 3 on the list, falling behind Boston at No. 1 and Pittsburgh at No. 2. Ultimately, a lack of collegiate representation was Detroit's undoing as the Motor City and the Steel City, which ranked as the best NHL city, both tied for last in collegiate hockey at No. 58. Boston, on the other hand, took the top spot for collegiate hockey and second in NHL, giving them the top spot overall.
Overall, Michigan had several cities among the 75 included in the study.
- Houghton, MI ranked No. 27 overall, fourth for collegiate hockey
- Ann Arbor, MI ranked No. 28 overall, fifth for collegiate hockey
- Big Rapids, MI ranked No. 32 overall, ninth for collegiate
- Soult Ste. Marie, MI ranked No. 36 overall, 14th for collegiate
- East Lansing, MI ranked No. 48 overall, 26th for collegiate
- Marquette, MI ranked No. 50 overall, 28th for collegiate
- Kalamazoo, MI ranked No. 67 overall, 47th for collegiate
Each of those cities suffered for not having professional hockey teams, which naturally took up the first 24 spots on the overall ranking. It would have been interesting to see how the list could have shifted with mid-level professional hockey teams included.
Still, Michigan had the second-most cities on the list, eight to New York's 11, showing that the passion for the sport in the Mitten State is about as good as it gets in the states.
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