Forbes list of NHL team values: 10 observations

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For those with an interest in the business of the NHL, here are 10 observations about Forbes’ just-published list of franchise values. Other readers might find these observations boring. So let’s get right to it!

1. The Capitals have nearly doubled in value since 2004, from $115 million to $225 million. So say what you will about Alex Ovechkin underperforming his massive contract, he’s already made Ted Leonsis a pile of money on paper. No way Washington is worth as much without Ovi.

2. According to Forbes, the four teams carrying the most debt as a percentage of franchise value are New Jersey (144%), Dallas (126%), St. Louis (81%) and Carolina (77%). Forget the Stars, because they have a new owner now. But there’s a reason the Devils have reportedly been flirting with bankruptcy, the Blues are for sale, and the Hurricanes were forced to bring in a bunch of new investors. It’s a dangerous time to be highly leveraged.

3. The Winnipeg Jets are valued at $164 million. They were sold this summer for $110 million, plus a $60 million relocation fee paid to the NHL for the privilege of moving out of Atlanta. Now consider the NHL bought the Phoenix Coyotes for $140 million two years ago. Given the City of Glendale is covering annual losses up to $25 million, could the league end up making a profit on its purchase if the franchise relocates at the end of the season?

4. The Leafs’ operating income is estimated at $81.8 million, by far the most in the NHL. And that’s without any postseason revenue. Imagine if they actually make the playoffs this season. Tickets probably won’t be cheap.

5. The Flyers’ revenue fell by $10 million. Presumably the difference between making the Stanley Cup final in 2010 and losing in the second round last season.

6. Despite the economy, only seven teams are worth less today than they were last year. For those wondering why Gary Bettman makes a lot of money, there you go.

7. Over half the Islanders’ franchise value is attributed to its market, which Forbes says is worth $78 million. Nashville’s market, in contrast, is valued at just $52 million. Translation: the NHL will do everything it can to facilitate the building of a new arena that will keep the Isles where they are. You don’t walk away from affluent, densely-populated markets like Long Island without a fight.

8. The Rangers’ franchise value rose by $46 million over last year. The prospect of a renovated Madison Square Garden with all the additional revenue sources that come with modern arenas was a big reason why. They’re not sinking $850 million into MSG because it was looking a little drab.

9. The Toronto hockey market is estimated to be worth $254 million. Thus, the talk of adding a second team. Also, the reason the Leafs are so protective of their territory. The monopoly they enjoy comprises a huge chunk of their franchise value. Obviously they’ll want to be compensated if another team moves in.

10. The Detroit Red Wings are worth $336 million. Mike Ilitch bought them in 1982 for $8 million. Nice little investment.