Forbes ranks Maple Leafs #1… In franchise value

Maple Leafs fans haven’t had much in the way of success to get excited about over the last few years. Hell, they haven’t had a lot to be happy about for quite some time really.  Today, though, the Leafs can have some sense of pride over being ranked #1 in something. Sure, it’s not being ranked #1 in terms of team success, but the Leafs are, once again, the NHL’s most valuable franchise according to Forbes Magazine.

The Leafs top Forbes’ list of most valuable franchises with a value of $505 million. That total is made more interesting today with the news of Rogers in Canada being interested in buying the Leafs in a package deal worth over $1 billion. It’s got to be nice to be wanted after all. Coming in second are the New York Rangers worth $461 million. Being Manhattan’s only team has its advantages as does playing your home games in Madison Square Garden.

In third, it’s the Leafs biggest rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal checks in with a franchise value of $408 million, something which the new owners, the Molson family, are happy to hear about. In fourth, the Detroit Red Wings come in worth $315 million. Years of success and a monstrous fan base ensure the worth of the Wings. The fifth most valuable team are the Boston Bruins checking in at $302 million.

Rounding out the top ten are the Philadelphia Flyers in sixth, Chicago Blackhawks seventh, Vancouver Canucks in eighth, Pittsburgh Penguins in ninth, and the Dallas Stars in tenth with a value of $227 million. Fascinating to see the Stars ranked so high especially with the team’s ownership currently in flux as they look for a new owner to take over operations. How much you want to bet Brad Richards is taking notice of the team’s worth as he looks towards getting a new contract.

As for the overall look at the league, Forbes says that the split between the haves and the have-nots is becoming a bit more distinct.

During the 2009-’10 season the 30 teams combined to generate $160 million of operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) on revenue (net of proceeds required for arena debt) of $2.9 billion. But seven teams (the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Black Hawks and Vancouver Canucks) combined to earn $241 million, with none making less than $13 million. Meanwhile, 16 teams were in the red, with the six biggest money-losers (Phoenix Coyotes, Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals, Atlanta Thrashers, Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning) dropping an aggregate of $63 million.

It’s odd seeing the Capitals in the mix with the likes of the Panthers and Lightning, but all three of those teams have seen ownership shifting of one variety or another. Caps owner Ted Leonsis bought the NBA’s Washington Wizards. The Panthers and Lightning saw ownership shifts with Cliff Viner coming to power with the Panthers and Jeff Vinik buying the Lightning.

For now though Leafs fans, enjoy the day for being the league’s most valuable team. We’re sure that the fans know all too well given that the Leafs have some of the highest ticket prices in the league.

Leafs chase Rask, but Bruins make things interesting

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The Toronto Maple Leafs came into Saturday’s game facing elimination, but they turned in a relatively solid performance in the first two periods of the game.

Connor Brown opened the scoring at the 6:36 mark of the first period before Andreas Johnsson, who was a healthy scratch in the first game of the series, made it 2-0 for the Leafs. Nazem Kadri made an immediate impact in his first game back from a suspension, as he fed Johnsson with a great feed.

David Backes got a goal back for the Bruins, but Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk extended Toronto’s lead to 4-2 in the middle frame. That’s when Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy decided to give Tuukka Rask the hook.

After failing to convert on a long 5-on-3 power play, Sean Kuraly scored to make it 4-2 with under three minutes remaining in the second period.

This should be an interesting final 20 minutes at TD Garden. The Maple Leafs need this victory to stay alive in the series.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Backstrom provides OT winner as Capitals take 3-2 series lead

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The Washington Capitals are on the verge of the second round.

Yes, the Capitals, who began the series with back-to-back losses in Game 1 and 2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets, are now on the brink of eliminating Ohio’s team after Nicklas Backstrom‘s deft deflection in overtime gave the Capitals their third straight win and a 3-2 series lead.

It was the fourth time in the series both clubs played to a tie in regulation. After Columbus won the first two in OT, Washington replied with a win in double-overtime in Game 3 before Backstrom ended Game 5 at the 11:53 mark of the first frame of free hockey.

Backstrom scored his first goal of the series to open the scoring for the Caps and assisted for the sixth time in the series on the go-ahead goal in the second period before Oliver Bjorkstrand tied it in third.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Braden Holtby had to be sharp, especially in the third period as, inexplicably, the Caps were outshot 16-1. At home. Holtby made 40 saves when it was all said and done.

Two-hundred feet away, Sergei Bobrovsky was up to the task, making some silly stops including a big one on Alex Ovechkin earlier in overtime and a bigger one in regulation time off the same man’s stick.

Game 6 of this series is slated for Monday in Columbus, with a start time still to be determined.

In his post-game comments, Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said, twice, that his team will be back in the capital for Game 7.

The promise has been made.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Kucherov, Vasilevskiy shine as Lightning eliminate Devils in 5

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One’s up for the Hart as the NHL’s best player while the other is up for the Vezina as the league’s top goaltender. Both combined their talents to eliminate the New Jersey Devils with a 2-1 win in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday.

Nikita Kucherov was once again on point for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Saturday’s matinee. Leading 1-0 in the third period, Kucherov scored a clutch goal — his fifth of the series — to put the Lightning from just inside the blue line to put the Bolts up two with seven minutes and change remaining.

It proved vital, Kucherov’s goal, as the Devils attempted a late comeback with Kyle Palmieri scored with three minutes remaining after Devils pulled Cory Schneider for the extra attacker 30 seconds earlier.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stood tall in the final 180 seconds, stopping 26-of-27 to help usher the Lightning into the second round.

Tampa, the Atlantic Division winners in the regular season, will face the winner of the series between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, who play later on Saturday in Game 5. The Bruins lead the series 3-1.

Kucherov was as immense for the Lightning as he was oppressive for the Devils, adding five assists to bring his series total to 10 points. His usual scoring touch was supplemented by his play in the physical department, including this bone-crushing hit on New Jersey defenseman Sami Vatanen.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

For the Devils, it was hard-fought series from a young team still trying to find its way in the playoffs.

The Devils abandoned goalie Keith Kinkaid after dropping the first two games. Cory Schneider, who hadn’t won a game in 2018 before Game 3, came in and provided the spark in goal, one that seemed to get the Devils going at the other end of the rink as well as they rolled to a 5-3 win.

But that well ran dry in Game 4 as the Devils produced just one goal in a 3-1 loss. Game 5 was much the same, production-wise, with the Devils only managing one goal.

Fellow Hart Trophy candidate Taylor Hall provided two goals and six points in the series after a 93-point regular season. Rookie Nico Hischier managed just a goal after scoring 20 in his rookie campaign.

For Vasilevskiy, after looking far more human in the second half of the season, finding his mojo again can only be mean bad things for future playoff opponents.

The young Russian finished with a .941 save percentage in the series.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Blue Jackets’ Matt Calvert scores unusual breakaway goal

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We’ve all see some breakaways go horribly, horribly wrong in the past.

Patrik Stefan reigns supreme here. Devin Setoguchi didn’t fare too well on this one. And then there was this gaffe by Dennis Wideman once upon a time.

But sometimes one screws up, only to rebound quickly and turn a near-blunder into a nice-ish goal.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert did that today, in what’s already being called the best/worst breakaway attempt of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As you can see in the video above, Calvert gets a nice clean breakaway. As he attempts to first a wrist shot, he whiffs on the attempt but manages to corral the puck back, doing the whole spin-o-rama thing, and deposit the puck past Braden Holtby for his second goal of the game.

Sometimes it just all works out.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck