Forbes shows drop in NHL revenue; Maple Leafs rank second in team value

NHL agent Kurt Overhardt joins Lead Off to outline his "Exception Player Rule" proposal to exempt one player on each team from the salary cap calculation, because the superstars in the NHL are significantly underpaid compared to other major sports.

Every year, Forbes' look at NHL team values offers interesting insight into the business of hockey. This year's deep dive provides a particularly fascinating look at how hockey has fared through the pandemic-ravaged 2019-20 season -- and what another shortened season could bring.

According to Forbes writers Mike Ozanian and Kurt Badenhausen, the NHL saw a drop in the average team value for the first time since 2001, down two per cent to $653 million. Revenue also saw a significant drop – down 14 per cent, totalling $4.4 billion in 2019-20 – as did operating income, which was down to $250 million (a 68 per cent drop).

It's easy to see why, with the entire post-season conducted in quarantined bubbles with empty stands. Per Ozanian and Badenhausen, all the aspects of normal fanfare – tickets sales and suites, in-arena food and drink purchases, sponsorships, etc. – are what typically make up about 70 per cent of revenue for teams and the league.

Below are four additional takeaways from the Forbes piece, which you can read in full here.

Rangers still on top, Leafs sit second

According to Forbes, the New York Rangers remain the NHL's most valuable team – that's consistent with last year's evaluation, and not surprising considering the big market and big budget of the historic Big Apple club. (You've got to think that landing the No. 1 pick this year has that value ready to rise.)

There are no surprises when it comes to which teams follow the Rangers, who are valued at $1.65 billion, on the list of most valuable franchises: coming in at No. 2 are the Toronto Maple Leafs (valued at $1.5 billion), with the Montreal Canadiens ($1.34 billion), Chicago Blackhawks ($1.085 billion) and Boston Bruins ($1 billion) rounding out the top five.

Three Canadians clubs in top 10

The Vancouver Canucks are the 10th-most valuable team, valued at $725 million. The Edmonton Oilers ($550 million) came in at 14, followed by the Calgary Flames (20th, $480 million), Ottawa Senators (26th, $430 million) and Winnipeg Jets (27th, $405 million).

The Stanley Cup champs lost, financially

According to Ozanian and Badenhausen, nine teams posted financial losses in the double digits – including the Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning, who posted operating losses of $11 million. Typically, the Cup champs see a massive rise in revenues but without fans being able to attend games, the Lightning's win didn't bring that same financial success.

Islanders suffered biggest financial hit

The New York Islanders posted an operating income of minus-$38 million. That doesn't mean a drop in their overall value, however – they landed at 16th in that regard, holding their value at $520 million, according to Forbes. Fifteen other teams posted negative operating incomes, including two Canadian teams: the Winnipeg Jets ($-7.6 million) and Ottawa Senators ($-2.9 million).

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