HOCKEY: LEAFS NO. 1 IN VALUE, IF NOT IN STANDINGS MASON LEVINSON
October 30, 2008
The Toronto Maple Leafs are the NHL's most valuable franchise for the third consecutive year, while the Pittsburgh Penguins gained the most financial ground, according to an annual survey by Forbes magazine.
The Maple Leafs, partly owned by Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, are worth $448-million (all currency U.S.), a 9-per-cent increase from their value a year ago.
The New York Rangers, valued at $411-million, remained second, followed by the Montreal Canadiens ($334-million), Detroit Red Wings ($303-million) and Philadelphia Flyers ($275-million).
"The Maple Leafs continue to mint money at the Air Canada Centre despite putting a very poor product on the ice," Kurt Badenhausen, one of the authors of the story for Forbes, said in a telephone interview. "There's an insatiable appetite for hockey in Canada, and with the appreciation of the Canadian dollar over the last couple of years, we've seen revenues soar."
Toronto, which won the last of its 13 Stanley Cup titles in 1967, has an operating income of $66.4-million, which is $35.7-million more than the Rangers and $26.8-million more than Montreal. The Maple Leafs failed to reach the NHL playoffs the past three seasons.
"They seem to be immune to the idea that if you put a poor product on the ice, fans aren't going to show up," Badenhausen said.
The Dallas Stars are the sixth most valuable NHL team, at $273-million, followed by the Boston Bruins ($263-million), Vancouver Canucks ($236-million) and Colorado Avalanche ($231-million). The New Jersey Devils climbed three spots to No. 10 with a value of $222-million, a 14-per-cent increase from last year.
Badenhausen said the club with likely the brightest financial future is the 18th-ranked Pittsburgh Penguins, whose $195-million value grew 26 per cent in the past year, more than any of the other NHL franchises. The Mario Lemieux-owned team had risen 17 per cent in value a year earlier.
"They'll continue, most likely, to move up the ranks," Badenhausen said of the Penguins, who lost to Detroit in last season's Stanley Cup final. "They've got an exciting young team that is very marketable, they've got a fan base that is tuned in, and probably most important, they'll be getting a new arena in 2010."
The next biggest gainers were the Calgary Flames, up 24 per cent to $203-million, and the Minnesota Wild, who improved 21 per cent and are worth $217-million.