So enough of NHL free agency has passed so far that there's room to react to the way teams are starting to shape up. Fans are already out and about spreading their joy and misery with the world while at the same time trying to infect the rest of the fanbases with it. With that (and a throwaway Twitter comment in which @TheTripleDeke saw the potential) in mind, I give you this week's Troll Power Rankings.
Here are the top six teams in the league with the easiest-to-troll fanbases:
1. Detroit Red Wings: C'mon, you've been around the Red Wings' fanbase the last few days. You know we're all just one confirmed report of Alex Semin signing for $1M in Pittsburgh away from burning this mother down and pitchforking each other. The one word to describe the overall feeling of Detroit's fanbase right now is Ohmyfuckinggodeverybodyislosingtheirmindsrightnowandcouldquitepossiblypeeliteralfirethankstothemagicofnervousenergy. You'd get a calmer reaction yelling "Bees made out of fire!" in a crowded theater than you'd get by being an outsider picking at Red Wings fans.
2. Minnesota Wild: If last season's Regressiongate taught trolls anything, it's the Wild fans are very sensitive when non-believers tell them that their team isn't as good as they think it is. Sure, they're pretty comfortable right now with their shiny new toys and an owner who simultaneously whines about the NHL's payroll system murdering everybody while throwing $200M worth of black ink into his own books. But, even the cries of "sour grapes!" won't hide the truth that Jared Spurgeon is their other top-pairing D-Man. Also, throw into the mix that the State of Hockey's bandwagon is now filling up with people who suddenly rediscovered their love for the sport, and it's not hard to poke fun.
Follow through the jump for the other four.
3. Philadelphia Flyers: Start off with a reminder of the Bryzgalov contract, move purposefully to the Carter/Richards trades, remind them they lost Carle, laugh at the Luke Schenn trade, and ask how they like replacing Jaromir Jagr with Ruslan Fedotenko. Sure, the Flyers still have plenty to be happy about and are still very competitive on paper. They're not the worst-off of Atlantic Division teams, but it sure doesn't look like they're much closer to fixing the problems with their roster. If all else fails, just bring up terrible fan behavior from the 70s. Sure, it's not relevant anymore and actual historical context makes some of it completely understandable, but they've been explaining that to people for 30 years now; they're a bit frustrated with having to continue to do it.
4. Calgary Flames: So the Minnesota Wild grabbed Parise and Suter off the pile for a shitload of money. Meanwhile, the Calgary flames throw a combined $9.25M cap hit on their dynamic scoring forward/top-line defenseman combo of...wait for it... Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman. Ahahahaha! The rebuild-that-isn't-a-rebuild that's been going on with the Saddlesores for what feels like the last decade is just always good material. The Flames have $3.5M in cap space on a 23-man roster and nobody thinks they're better than a low-seed for the playoffs.
5. Nashville Predators: Gosh, Predators fans are just really happy to see that Ryan Suter didn't sign with their archrivals Detroit. The problem is that he didn't sign with them either. Then their beloved Jordin Tootoo did sign with the Wings for less money. Their Norris Trophy caliber defenseman got to watch his best defensive pairing buddy walk for nothing, his GM do zilch to sign a forward (except overpay Gaustad), Josh Cooper sound-board off for how surprised the gullible franchise was for believing Suter was coming back, and now he's holding all the cards in an RFA negotiation where they can't take him to arbitration because they already pulled that emergency parachute once. Nashville (the team where ownership promised to spend to the cap) is still a ways from the floor and are starting to look every bit like the glorified farm system we've been calling them for years. Combine that with a "hey, this is the 2nd round, isn't this neat!" outlook and it's not hard to troll them.
6. New Jersey Devils: This one is right on the cusp of easiest-to-troll because at a certain point, you almost want to feel badly for them. Their captain took them to the cup finals, but they were overcome by a team playing insanely well, but their financials fell apart and they couldn't offer both insane money and the promise that his fiancee would be happy. Even the franchise goalie who defined an era of success for them toyed with offers of leaving the club. Where Detroit looks to trolls like a giant crumbling at the base, New Jersey looks more like a San Diego fireworks show. Lou Lamoriello spent a summer cramming Ilya Kovalchuk's contract into the NHL's system (losing a first-round pick in the process) and is now watching all the other Play-Doh pieces squeeze out of the holes in the franchise.
As a bonus, the hardest fanbases to troll right now:
1. Los Angeles Kings: They won the cup, they can't hear you over how awesome that feels.
2. Any team with a tiny fanbase: Because there aren't very many of them, see?
3. Toronto Maple Leafs: There's a shitload of them, so they can drown you out. Plus, they're kind of used to being picked on, so their defense mechanisms are very strong.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins: Oh... our GM who got a great deal for Jordan Staal and stole James Neal didn't sign Zach Parise to a 13-year deal with a full NMC? Guess we'll just have to suffer through the rest of our lives with Crosby and Malkin.
As a disclaimer, this list is for fun. I'm not suggesting anybody troll other fanbases and just because I wrote about your crappy team doesn't mean I'm inviting you to troll ours.