News flash: The Toronto Maple Leafs are worth a lot of money.
Once again, the Leafs topped the annual Forbes list of the most profitable hockey franchises with an estimated total value of US$521 million.
Hockey is by far Canada’s most popular sport and the numbers show that. The Montreal Canadiens ranked third on the list with a net worth of $445 million; the Vancouver Canucks are ranked seventh, worth $300 million; the Calgary Flames ranked 13th at $220 million; the Edmonton Oilers ranked 15th at $212 million; the Ottawa Senators ranked 17th at $201 million.
The newest Canadian franchise, the Winnipeg Jets, increased 21 per cent in value this past year, which was the most in the NHL. After True North Sports and Entertainment purchased the Atlanta Thrashers in May for $110 million and relocated to Winnipeg, the franchise is now worth $164 million.
Hockey’s popularity is at an all-time high in North America and so is its profitability. TV ratings are up, as are internet hits. Last season’s Winter Classic between Pittsburgh and Washington garnered an American audience of 4.5 million, making it the most-watched regular season NHL game in 36 years. The average number of unique visitors to NHL.com and the 30 NHL team websites has increased to a record 22 million per month.
The average NHL team is now worth $240 million, which is 5 per cent more than last year. One stat that jumps off the page is the fact the average NHL team is worth 47 per cent more than it was before the lockout that cancelled the 2004-2005 season.
Here is the complete list of where the 30 NHL teams rank: