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.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.

Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

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Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.