MONEYPUCK: RICH MAN, POOR MAN

Robin Brownlee
November 28 2012 02:28PM

If you’ve had difficulty getting your head around the numbers being tossed around during the NHL lockout regarding the financial situations the league’s 30 teams find themselves in, there’s good reason – at least if you look at the numbers published in Forbes Magazine today.

In its latest item on NHL team values, which you can find here, the numbers Forbes is using shows a huge disparity in the values, revenues and operating incomes of the 30 franchises.

While the Edmonton Oilers are ranked a reasonably healthy 14thin value at $225 million, that number leaves Daryl Katz’s outfit a mere $775 million behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, who hold down top spot with a value listed at a cool $1 billion. At the other end of the scale, the St. Louis Blues sit 30th with a Forbes value of $130 million – some $870 million behind Toronto.

Forbes lists Edmonton at $225 million in value with a 2011-12 revenues of $106 million and an operating income of $16.2 million. The Calgary Flames, meanwhile, are listed at a value of $245 million, with 2011-12 revenues of $117 million and an operating income of $11 million, well back of the Oilers.

NOT ALL TEAMS CREATED EQUAL

There’s plenty in the article that jumps out at you. Some of the excerpts that caught my eye:

"But the spread between the rich and poor teams is dramatic. The five most valuable teams–the Maple Leafs ($1 billion), New York Rangers ($750 million), Montreal Canadiens ($575 million), Chicago Blackhawks ($350 million) and Boston Bruins ($348 million)–are worth $605 million, on average. The five least valuable–the Carolina Hurricanes ($162 million), New York Islanders ($155 million), Columbus Blue Jackets ($145 million), Phoenix Coyotes ($134 million) and St. Louis Blues ($130 million)–are worth just $145 million, on average."

"There is also an incredible bifurcation of cash flow. Overall operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) almost doubled during the 2011-12 season, to $250 million. But the sport’s three most profitable teams–the Maple Leafs ($81.9 million), Rangers ($74 million), Canadians ($51.6 million)–accounted for 83% of the league’s income, while 13 of 30 teams lost money, before non-cash expenses and interest payments."

If Forbes is accurate about 13 teams operating in the red – if they’re even in the ballpark for that matter – it’s little wonder commissioner Gary Bettman is playing hardball with Donald Fehr and the NHLPA on behalf of the owners to re-set the NHL’s financial framework.

From where I sit, it’s chilling, or should be, that a franchise like the San Jose Sharks (rated 15th by Forbes with a value of $223 million) lost about $900,000 in 2011-12 despite having sell-outs in 110 consecutive games. If you click through the thumbnails of teams in the item you’ll find other examples.

While business is booming at the top of the Forbes list, and is pretty good in many markets like Edmonton, even with the Oilers operating out of dated Rexall Place, there’s trouble, and plenty of it, at the other end of the scale.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

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A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.