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What makes a great fan base? It’s a lot more than just noise

Hockey’s most ardent diehards lose sleep and their hard-earned pay, not necessarily their voices

When we were building the formula

for our NHL Fan Rankings, the notion of noise was tabled. Should we try to concoct a volume measurement and weave that into the calculations? The suggestion fell on deaf ears, for a couple reasons. For starters, we couldn’t think of an objective methodology. There is no decibel-per-game average available anywhere. Secondly, and more to the point, loudness doesn’t necessarily equal good fandom.

Some of the noisiest partiers at NHL arenas are just that: dudes who’ve made a bunch of visits to the beer line. Or they’re revelers, more in it for a good time than the appreciation of what’s unfolding before them. I’ve been to contests with people who couldn’t name the home team’s starting goalie, but they yelled lustily to be part of the community. And I’ve been to games with people who know what the seventh defenseman eats for breakfast, yet they’ve sat on their hands the entire time, keenly taking in all nuances, ebbs and flows. In my world, the die-heartiest of fans needn’t be boisterous, but they should be intense, bordering on obsessive. You fall into this category if you’ve experienced most or all of the following: • You lose sleep when your team loses. You replay games in your mind while you’re lying in bed, playing the “if only…” game. If only Johnson had shot instead of passed. If only the referee had called it the same way for both teams. If only they’d listen to me. • You yell at the TV as if the players/coaches/refs can hear you. • You bask when your team wins. Again, this can cause insomnia, but in a good way. You lie awake, re-living moments and predicting future outcomes. And the wins aren’t just joyous, they provide relief. • You refer to your club as though you’re on it. As in “we beat the Pens” last night. You do this more often when “we’re” on a hot streak. • You speak volumes with your wallet. Anyone can buy a jersey, but you also own an assortment of licensed hats, mugs, pennants, T-shirts, DVDs, golf balls, toothbrushes and, if applicable, infant onesies. • You use vacation days to plan road trips in enemy territory. • You organize your social calendar around game nights, trade deadline day and the first round of the NHL draft. • You have a

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