Home-ice advantage is often overrated. At the end of the day, the cream of the crop will always rise, no matter how loud, wild or relentless a crowd can be on any given night.
But there's no denying that as an opposing player, stepping out on the ice to the sound of tens of thousands of rowdy fans simultaneously hissing at you while making the ground shake as the home team steps out on the ice can shake a psyche and rattle even the most stable athletes to their core.
Over the years, several NHL fanbases have established themselves as clear-cut heavy hitters when it comes to "bringing the noise" on game day. The fans you'll find on this list are often referred to by opposing players and coaches as "passionate" - but if they could really express their true thoughts, they would probably use words like "insane" or "bat-s**t crazy."
There's nothing quite as sweet as going into a rival's building and quieting a raucous crowd, but there's nothing quite as intimidating and demoralizing as having the chants of an opponent's fans ringing in your ears, with the echoes still bouncing around your head hours after the final siren. Not many fanbases can have that kind of effect - and not that many can do so while raising decibel levels the way the way they do it in these arenas.
10 Detroit Red Wings
9 San Jose Sharks
8 Calgary Flames
7 Boston Bruins
6 Philadelphia Flyers
Bruins fans might disagree - and be disgusted - by the Philly faithful being ranked ahead of the Bruins' diehards, but if Bruins fans are "rowdy," there probably isn't a word for what Flyers fans are able to elevate too. The City of Brotherly Love is known for being the exact opposite of their moniker - "unbrotherly" and generally unloving to "sports outsiders." However, when it comes to their own, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more passionate fan-base. They'll be tough on you, but you can call it "tough love," the kind of love a father might give you because he just wants you to succeed and do well.
5 Washington Capitals
For years, the Capitals had a fairly intimidating eagle strewn across the crest of their jerseys, a logo that did not entirely capture the essence of the team name, but was generally understood nonetheless. The Caps re-branded themselves several years back, with a fresh version of their retro jerseys - and suddenly became one of the more intimidating teams in the league.
Sure, it helps when you can throw Alex Ovechkin out on the ice for 25 minutes a game, but the general aura surrounding the team has changed ever since the Capitals went red. While the improved on-ice product is huge, the "Rock the Red" motto has become synonymous with the nation's capital, and the Washington, D.C. fanbase has embraced it fully. Caps fans have proven that they know how to party, make a ton of noise and instill fear in the hearts of their opponents.
4 Minnesota Wild
If Detroit, Michigan is "Hockeytown U.S.A." then Minnesota is far and away "The State of Hockey."
Minny is as close as it gets to a hockey factory in America. Some of the league's best, including former greats Phil Housley and Dave Christian, and current stars Zach Parise and David Backes, have come out of Minnesota. While the Wild are only entering their 15th season this year, they've given fans plenty of reason to rally behind the franchise over the years.
3 Winnipeg Jets
No one was surprised that the excitement level in Winnipeg for the return of the Jets was at a level that no team around the league had ever seen before - but the atmosphere they've managed to not only create but sustain over the past few years is nothing short of remarkable.
2 Montreal Canadiens
You hear it from Habs players (past and present) all the time: there's no harder place to lose, but there's no greater place to win.
Habs fans are as fickle as they come, but when they're happy and cheering on a successful version of Les Glorieux, there's not a greater fan-base in the NHL. While the Bell Centre has yet to fully recapture the aura and glory of the old Forum, it still gets extremely loud, extremely consistently. The Habs have sold out every game for the past decade-plus, although the streak officially ended when a seat was left empty for the late Mr. Jean Béliveau following his passing mid-season.
1 Chicago Blackhawks
Anytime you can associate the word "madhouse" to your arena or stadium, you know some incredibly wild stuff is going on in that building.
When the Blackhawks were a cellar-dwelling joke of a franchise during the early 2000s, they were bad in all senses - and that included engaging their fan-base. Seats were empty, tickets went unsold - the games weren't even shown on television. When the rebuild officially began, it was not just a matter of rebuilding the product on the ice, but off it as well.
Fast-forward nearly a decade. The Hawks are practically an NHL dynasty, boast some of the game's top stars, and are four wins away from hoisting their third Stanley Cup in six years. All of that, plus the Madhouse on Madison is finally hopping again.
The Hawks have meshed a successful team with a hockey-crazed fan-base that has gotten a taste of victory and is now craving more. A legendary sports town in the midst of yet another dynasty has taken full advantage of a fantastic facility and crafty in-arena entertainment to turn a middling group of followers into what has ultimately become the loudest, most passionate and most inspiring fan-base in the NHL.
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