The Toronto Maple Leafs, the NHL's first billion dollar franchise, is again No. 1 in value. (Graig Abel/Getty Images)
By Allan Muir
Get ready for days of bluster, indignation and denials: Forbes has released its annual, and always controversial, list of the NHL's most valuable teams.
The list, compiled by Mike Ozanian, always riles owners and team executives who would prefer to cry poor, at least in public. So much the better, after all, for the next round of CBA negotiations. But Ozanian's research is intensive and reliable, and it tends to hold up well under later scrutiny. What it reveals this year is that the majority of NHL teams are doing quite well.
Especially the teams in Canada. Three of the league's five most valuable clubs are Canadian, and all seven of its teams in the Great White North finished in the top 16 for the first time ever.
Makes it a lot easier to spin the argument for an expansion team in Quebec City, doesn't it?
It's no surprise that Toronto came out on top again with a valuation of $1.15 billion. The Maple Leafs are the league's most unassailable brand, and worth 6.5 times the value of the Columbus Blue Jackets, the cellar dweller at $175 million.
The reasons for the Canadian success story are clear. The loonie continues to compare well to the U.S. greenback (the currency of all contract payments), and Canadian fans are willing to pay more to watch the home team play. From the article:
"The five most expensive average ticket prices were charged by Canadian franchises–Toronto ($120), Montreal ($99), Winnipeg Jets ($95), Vancouver ($90), Edmonton Oilers ($79). Ticket revenues in the NHL are the Mother’s Milk of profits because the home team keeps 100% of the gate. The top teams in gate receipts-per-game last season: Toronto ($2.2 million), Montreal ($2.1 million), Vancouver ($1.8 million), New York Rangers ($1.8 million), and Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers tied at ($1.6 million).
Even the Ottawa Senators, whose owner, Eugene Melnyk, reported losses of $94 million has reason to smile. His franchise valuation rose 73 percent from last year to $380 million.
Still, 12 of the 30 teams operated at a loss or close to it during the 2012-13 season.
The Minnesota Wild were the loss leaders at nearly $13.6 million in the red. The Phoenix Coyotes were next at $8.9 million, with the two Sunshine State clubs, Florida ($7.7 million) and Tampa Bay ($5.4 million) close behind.
The multi-part package makes for a fascinating read, but here's how Forbes lays the centerpiece of total valuation:
1. Toronto Maple Leafs ($1.15 billion)
2. NY Rangers ($850 million)
3. Montreal Canadiens ($775 million)
4. Vancouver Canucks ($700 million)
5. Chicago Blackhawks ($625 million)
6. Boston Bruins ($600 million)
7. Philadelphia Flyers ($500 million)
8. Pittsburgh Penguins ($480 million)
9. Detroit Red Wings ($470 million)
10. LA Kings ($450 million)
11. Calgary Flames ($420 million)
12. Washington Capitals ($414 million)
13. San Jose Shark ($405 million)
14. Edmonton Oilers ($400 million)
15. Ottawa Senators ($380 million)
16. Winnipeg Jets ($340 million)
17. Colorado Avalanche ($337 million)
18. Dallas Stars ($333 million)
19. Minnesota Wild ($330 million)
20. NJ Devils ($320 million)
21. Anaheim Ducks ($300 million)
22. Buffalo Sabres ($250 million)
23. Florida Panthers ($240 million)
24. Nashville Predators ($205 million)
25. Phoenix Coyotes ($200 million)
26. NY Islanders ($195 million)
27. Carolina Hurricanes ($187 million)
28. St. Louis Blues ($185 million)
29. Tampa Bay Lightning ($180 million)
30. Columbus Blue Jackets ($175 million)
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