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Maple Leafs worth $1 billion, says Forbes

Nov 28, 2012, 1:01 PM EDT

Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf Getty Images

They haven’t made the playoffs since before the last lockout, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are still worth a cool $1 billion, according to the newest Forbes valuations.

The Leafs’ valuation is by far the highest of all 30 NHL franchises, and it dwarfs the dollar figure assigned to the least valuable clubs.

After the Leafs, it’s the New York Rangers ($750 million), Montreal Canadiens ($575 million), Chicago Blackhawks ($350 million), and Boston Bruins ($348 million).

At the bottom end, the St. Louis Blues are the least valuable franchise at $130 million, slightly lower than the Phoenix Coyotes ($134 million) and Columbus Blue Jackets ($145 million).

It should be noted that in cases like the Blues, Forbes was able to use actual recent sale prices to determine value. For teams like the Bruins (Jeremy Jacobs has owned the B’s since 1975), valuations are estimates.

A few notes:

—- The Leafs are worth almost eight times more than the Blues. That’s a massive discrepancy compared to the NFL, where Forbes values the most valuable Dallas Cowboys ($2.1 billion) at just 2.7 times more than No. 32 Jacksonville ($770 million).*

—- Forbes estimates that 17 NHL teams are profitable, led by the Leafs with annual operating income of $81.9 million. League-wide earnings were pegged at $250 million, a number the league would likely dispute as too high.

—- The average franchise value is around $282 million. The average Canadian franchise value is around $400 million.

—- Winnipeg is the least valuable Canadian franchise at $200 million (No. 20).

—- Of the 10 least valuable franchises, six of them are in markets where it very rarely snows. (And we’re not talking about Vancouver.)

—- The brand value Forbes assigns to the Coyotes is $13 million. For the Leafs, it’s $154 million.

* The great equalizer in the NFL is national TV money, which is in the neighborhood of $3 billion per year and divided evenly among all franchises. The NHL is far more dependent on ticket sales and local broadcasting revenue. Thus, the NHLPA’s push for more revenue-sharing between franchises.

  1. thailer35 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Coyotes not at the bottom?? Whaaaaa??

    (sound of a million PHT Phoeniphobes minds being blown)

    • jrmehle - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:49 PM

      The Coyotes had the biggest operating loss. So they are losing money faster than any other team, however currently the team’s value isn’t last in the league.

    • elvispocomo - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:05 PM

      Oooh, they’re $4M and 2nd from being the bottom. That blew my mind. Here’s another: did you know the Dallas Stars actually have the lowest ticket prices in the league, not Phoenix? Phoenix still has the worst average attendance though.

      Values like the Leafs in top hockey markets are why the NHL feels strongly enough about fans coming back. Unfortunately they choose to ignore teams like the Blues (who challenged for the President’s Trophy), Coyotes (who had some playoff success) and New Jersey (who made it to the SC finals) who will have significant losses in new fans they generated last season as well as losses to fans who were there only casually to begin with.

  2. paledevil - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    Something about revenue sharing…..

  3. ron05342 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:47 PM

  4. mattyo99 - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    I thought the flyers would be top 5 atleast

  5. sabatimus - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    This is pretty funny considering the Leafs are worthless on the ice.

    • sunderlanding - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:49 PM

      I don’t know if it’s that funny. Real hockey fans cheer for a team because they hope they’re going to win not because they think they’re going to win. It just goes to show the strength of hockey fans in Toronto. Most other so-called “fans” would’ve abondoned their team by now.

      • sabatimus - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:47 PM

        Funny? My being a Bruins fan, of course it’s funny. And true. But then, I have Jeremy Jacobs to deal with…

      • mmcneels81 - Nov 30, 2012 at 8:28 PM

        I’ve never been to Toronto, but these numbers make it pretty clear that hockey there is a universal OBSESSION. It must be truly mind-boggling. Those are some hardcore hockey fans to keep showing up at the building while enduring the failings of Brian Burke. Impressive.

        Still though… the Maple Leafs are only about as profitable as the Kansas City Chiefs.

  6. chiadam - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Columbus is worth $27.85.

  7. hockeyflow33 - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Looks like it will be St Louis I’ll be buying if I win powerball tonight

  8. zetaone - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Can you imagine what the Leafs would be worth if they made the playoffs in the past 8 years?

  9. digbysellers - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Old Man River…I mean, Ed Snider, will most likely deny this report and ban Forbes from the building. Elton John as well simply for makiing this cameo appearance.

  10. katra2logic - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    ‘Forbes estimates that 17 NHL teams are profitable, led by the Leafs with annual operating income of $81.9 million. League-wide earnings were pegged at $250 million, a number the league would likely dispute as too high.’

    Who are you believing on this one? Forbes (who have no vested interest in the numbers) or the (lying, deceitful) management team from NHL head office. Hmmm…..

  11. tackledummy1505 - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Lol this whole write up is funny. 1 how can the Flyers not be at the top of this? We are the Yankees of hockey. I’ve been over seas and almost every hockey store over seas carries Flyers gear at the least if they have any NHL gear at all. When I wore my gear over seas everyone knew the Flyers and had Flyer gear of their own. Our playoff games are the most watched always. Look at our Stanley Cup ratings with the Blackhawks or last season as a prime example as Penguins/Flyers series was the highest rated series out of all the rounds and that was round 1. I guess they rate the value on Cups, but then how is Toronto 1? I would love to know what Hockey For Dummies book the Forbes people got their info from. Probably from the same GM from Montreal who traded away gold for Scott Gomes lol

  12. tackledummy1505 - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Lol this whole write up is funny. 1 how can the Flyers not be at the top of this? We are the Yankees of hockey. I’ve been over seas and almost every hockey store over seas carries Flyers gear at the least if they have any NHL gear at all. When I wore my gear over seas everyone knew the Flyers and had Flyer gear of their own. Our playoff games are the most watched always. Look at our Stanley Cup ratings with the Blackhawks or last season as a prime example as Penguins/Flyers series was the highest rated series out of all the rounds and that was round 1. I guess they rate the value on Cups, but then how is Toronto 1? I would love to know what Hockey For Dummies book the Forbes people got their info from. Probably from the same GM from Montreal who traded away gold for Scott Gomes lol

    • kyzslew77 - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:36 PM

      ^^ Clearly a Rangers, Pens or Caps fan doing a parody of a moron Flyers fan. No one is that stupid.

    • supercoop8 - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:03 AM

      Forbes magazine fires researches and analysts replacing them with some guy from philly that has been “overseas.”

  13. tyn27 - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    Pretty funny stuff. It’s so irrelevant. My Leafs (who continue to disappoint me) are worth all that money but they can’t put a good team together, the Blues are worth the least money and have a great core of players. Just goes to show this doesn’t matter.

  14. woodstakes - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    I think the Forbes article just shows what a lot of us have been saying this whole time. It would be very easy to stabilize the guys at the bottom with just some real help from the guys at the top. I’ve said it from the git-go, Leafs & Rangers alone could save the rest of these teams and they’d STILL show profits. You take the top 10 teams and they’d hardly even notice it. So if they took the 7% reduction that players have offered and those teams just simply put that money toward revenue sharing there are no failing teams and if NHL growth rate stays at or above 5% (has been growing at 7%) then in just 2 years these teams would then be making more money than they did this last year. Whats so wrong with that, if the owners want to keep these teams where they are.

    But, somehow it became the players responsibility to provide the ‘crutch’ to these teams that are not profitable. The players salaries have increased as the revenues have increased. The problem is most of the revenues are generated by the top 5 teams. Well, those owners all decided to put/keep those failing teams in the markets they are in. I’m sure they were all fine with that nice big ole expansion fee they got. Its not like the players came to them and said “Hey, we want more jobs for players, so expand the league to nontraditional hockey areas!”, they did this all their own in order to try to be the NFL/MLB/NBA.

    Now, i’m with you if you think that athletes get paid to much for what they do, but YOU and I are to blame for that. We’ve allowed these industries to bloat up to $3+Billion, $7+Billion and $9+Billion machines. We pay the ticket prices, we pay the price of merchandise, we watch them on TV so advertisers pay huge sums of money to networks and networks in turn pay these HUGE TV Contracts. But the reality is they are the product; NFL, NBA, NHL & MLB are all just the company that sells us the product. So by being the product they should be making these sums of money when the company that sells them is making these huge revenues. I know, I know a lot of you are going to say something along the lines of “My company makes money because of me and they make $XX Millions…” its NOT the same thing. Chances are you could rather easily be replaced and the company would still make $XX Millions and not have to change a thing other than you. These sports companies could not just put subpar talent in the system and expect you or I to pay the same amount for tickets, merchandise etc and sponsors would no longer pay big dollars to tv networks to advertise and the tv networks in turn would not offer these huge contracts… its cyclical.

    So should the split be 50/50.. Yes. Should contracts be handled better with no front loaded deals… Yes. Do we really need to change free agency.. No. Should there be a much larger sum for revenue sharing from the top.. Yes. Do we really need to limit contracts… Maybe, because in the reality other than a generational player, Crosby, Ovie, Kovy etc how often are these 10+ yr contracts happening? Is it worth losing games over.. No. All these things should be done by now. But egos keep getting in the way, hopefully a mediator can help with that.

  15. atwatercrushesokoye - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    It’s amazing when you compare it to the 2011 numbers, the top teams are making way more money than they were in 2011. Good to see only (only?!) 13 teams losing money, with 2 of those being less than $1 million, but that number is likely slightly deceiving since the Kings and Devils barely showed profits after their long Stanley Cup runs, without the finals both would have been in the red. Funny after a run to the 3rd round that the Coyotes still lost $20 million…you can accuse me of being anti-Phoneix all you want, and talk about the “dedicated fanbase” but the fact is your team played 3 rounds in the playoffs and still were a major financial trainwreck!

    Also for all the Americans who talk about how stupid it would be to put another team in Canada with great markets like Seattle and Kansas City sitting there, I’ll point out that every single Canadian team made major profits, the lowest earner was my hometown Flames and they “only” made $11 million….there should be 2 more up here!

  16. id4joey - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    So, if only 17 teams are profitable then I assume that it must be easy for Bettman to get 8!votes in favor of a lockout. Doesn’t this mean then that the problem is bigger than we first thought?

  17. bleed4philly - Nov 29, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    This analysis should encourage teams to move to Canada and increase their value. And they must have a new tv contract. Bettman should have been fired for their current one.

  18. phillyfan97 - Nov 29, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    These teams generate value not only because of their prior history, but also because a majority of them are located in and around large population centers. I’m not saying this is rule is a constant, because there are teams like the L.A. Kings who aren’t in the upper echelon, but play in the second biggest urban area in the U.S. So in summation, I believe that one of the underlying themes is the location of a franchise, in regards to the population of the area in which it is located.

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