Breaking down Forbes' NHL team values

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Breaking down Forbes' NHL team values

The company and magazine that reveals and ranks the world’s richest people also calculates the game on ice. On Monday, Forbes released its annual NHL team valuations -- an estimate of the value of each of the 30 teams -- and despite what you’ve seen or read during nasty labor negotiations, there’s money to be made in the NHL.

According to Forbes, 19 teams returned a profit -- from the Maple Leafs at the top, hauling in $48.7 million, to the Colorado Avalanche (17th), turning a modest $300,000. The Flyers climbed up one spot to seventh.

Impressively, the Flyers were still able to turn a $6 million operating income despite the lack of revenue after failing to qualify for the playoffs. The Comcast enterprise is now valued at a half-billion dollars, an increase of 49 percent from 2011-12. Here are some other observations:

Do big UFAs still make cents?
The NHL’s new 10-year CBA effectively ended long-term, front-loaded contracts, allowing more owners to put profits into their pockets. Perhaps Ed Snider and the other board members at Comcast-Spectacor can thank the Nashville Predators for strengthening the Flyers' bottom line. Had Nashville refused to match the offer sheet for defenseman Shea Weber, the Flyers would have been operating in the red after cutting Weber a check for $14 million last summer. No surprise the Minnesota Wild had the largest operating loss of any NHL team at $13.6 million -- the result of signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to identical 13-year, $98 million contracts.

Blackhawks are perfect business model
Not only have the ‘Hawks hoisted the Stanley Cup twice in a four-year span, they’ve proven to be one of the league’s most profitable, with an operating income of $25.6 million -- second to the New York Rangers among U.S.-based teams. The Blackhawks are now valued at $625 million -- up 79 percent from the previous year. Owner Rocky Wirtz has lived by the motto “You have to spend money in order to make money,” and within the hockey operations, the Blackhawks have spent wisely. As co-owners of the United Center, the 'Hawks are one of four NHL teams with little or no debt.

Don't count your money by the Cup
The Maple Leafs, Rangers and Canadiens are the Big Three when it comes to current value, revenue and operating income, but that clearly hasn’t translated into success on the ice. The Blueshirts were the last of those teams to win Lord Stanley’s Cup back in 1994, with the Canadiens winning a year earlier. Plus, the wealth is distributed a little more evenly. Last year, Toronto, New York and Montreal accounted for a whopping 83 percent of the league’s income. This year, they accounted for just over half of that amount.

Canadian teams are moneymakers
If the NHL is seriously considering expanding to 32 teams, it’s hard to argue putting two more franchises in Canada. All seven of the Canadian teams rank in the top 16 for the first time in Forbes’ rankings, including three in the top four. Combined, the seven Canadian teams had earnings totaling $129 million -- an average of $18.4 million per team. Comparatively, the 23 U.S.-based franchises collectively had an operating income totaling $81.3 million, or an average of $3.53 million per team. The Winnipeg Jets are now valued at $340 million, or twice what True North Sports & Entertainment paid to bail the franchise out of Atlanta just a few years ago.

Harris right on the money
Sixers owner Josh Harris rescued the New Jersey Devils from an NHL takeover, purchasing the franchise and the lease to the Prudential Center as well as assuming all debt for $320 million back in August. If you thought Harris overpaid, consider that Forbes’ value of the Devils came in at $320 million. However, when evaluating the Devils franchise, a few disturbing aspects stand out. The Dallas Stars (playing in a non-traditional hockey market) and the Buffalo Sabres (playing in one of the league’s smallest markets) are pulling in as much revenue as the Devils, who lost $4.2 million in 2012-13 coming off their run to the Stanley Cup Final the year before. Harris' franchise also has a debt/value ratio of 81 percent, by far the highest of any team in the NHL.

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane scored three goals for his third career hat trick to lead the surging Chicago Blackhawks past the Arizona Coyotes 6-3 on Thursday night for their third straight win and eighth in nine games.

Kane has 23 goals to lead Chicago, which closed within three points behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Rookies Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and assist. Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival scored his first goal of the season in his first game since Jan. 15.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews added two assists to extend his points scoring streak to five games and increase his output to 22 points in his past 13.

Jakob Chychrun, Ryan White and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes. Chychrun and Vrbata each scored for the second straight game (see full recap).

Rangers outlast Maple Leafs in shootout
TORONTO -- Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner and the New York Rangers continued a strong February with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves and J.T. Miller scored the game-tying goal in the third period for the Rangers, who improved to 8-1-1 this month.

New York moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 80 points.

Connor Brown scored for Toronto, which fell to 1-7 in shootouts this season. Frederik Andersen had a stellar performance in defeat with 37 saves.

The Leafs hold the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (68 points), two points back of Ottawa (70) and four back of Montreal (see full recap).

Islanders shut out Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Rookie Anthony Beauvillier scored in the first period, Thomas Greiss made 24 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 Thursday night.

Anders Lee scored in the second period and John Tavares added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the Islanders' third straight win. New York has won the first two games on a crucial nine-game road swing and improved to 12-4-2 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano.

Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson each had two assists, and Greiss got his third shutout of the season.

Carey Price finished with 21 saves as the Canadiens lost coach Claude Julien's 1,000th NHL game. Montreal is 1-2-0 since Julien replaced Michel Therrien last week and has totaled just 14 goals while going 2-7-1 in the last 10 games, including four shutouts (see full recap).

Flyers' outdoor game vs. Pens different because of football stadium

Flyers' outdoor game vs. Pens different because of football stadium

VOORHEES, N.J. -- He grew up as a youngster in Judique, Nova Scotia, as a Toronto Blue Jays fan even though the Boston Red Sox were closer geographically.

“My brother was the Red Sox fan,” Andrew MacDonald said.

While hockey was his passion, MacDonald loved to watch baseball. Joe Carter’s walk-off home run in the 1993 World Series clinched it for Mac, then a 7-year-old.

“Didn’t see it for a while though because we only had two TV channels,” MacDonald laughed.

“Yeah, I was Blue Jays fan from Canada.”

On Saturday, the Flyers visit Heinz Field for an outdoor game against their most bitter rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2017 Stadium Series.

MacDonald was a starter for the Islanders during the 2014 Stadium Series game held at the new Yankee Stadium against the Rangers. He likes outdoor games in baseball stadiums even though that is not where this game will take place.

“When I had been to New York, I had gone to a few Yankee games at Yankee Stadium,” MacDonald said Thursday after practice. “Obviously, I got to take in the experience of being a fan there. It’s a pretty great stadium. To be on the field, although it’s a different sport and setting, it was pretty special.”

Michal Neuvirth was the backup goalie for Washington in the 2011 Winter Classic held at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

“It’s just as big as if you played inside for two points,” Neuvirth said. “I just backed up that game there but it was awesome. The big crowd and we won the game with Washington. A good feeling afterward.”

MacDonald said his experience at Yankee Stadium was similar.

“It was great,” he said of the Bronx affair. “Not everyone gets to play in one of those games, so it was special. Just being in that outdoor environment and the capacity of the crowd. Really like a center stage, special experience.”

In both previous Winter Classics involving the Flyers, they were held in baseball stadiums -- Fenway Park in 2010 and Citizens Bank Park two years later. Incidentally, Claude Giroux is the only Flyer to have played in both of the franchise's two Winter Classics.

This “Stadium Series” game will offer a different “look” for players and fans because it occurs in the Steelers’ football stadium.

“Obviously, the setup of the ice surface will be right in the middle of the field as a rectangular field as opposed to baseball where it’s kind of on a different angle,” MacDonald said.

“It’s good. We’ll get a good skate in. A family skate. Yeah, I hope [weather cooperates]. It might not be the best ice, but hopefully, it goes according to plan and go off without a hitch.”

Hot temperatures Friday followed by heavy rain on Saturday could make things difficult.

“Tough to say as to what to expect,” said Neuvirth, who will start in goal. “For me, I am going to prepare myself for 8 o’clock and play my game.”

The most unusual thing that players say affect them during outdoor games is not having fans on the glass. They’re far away in the stands.

Yet in a baseball stadium, some of those fans are a lot closer to the ice than the setup in a football stadium.

“Yeah, it was kind of unique and took a while to get used to,” MacDonald said. “There’s no fans on the glass. You are kind of isolated by yourself there on the middle of the field.

“It’s not until the TV timeout where you can look around and take it all in. It's almost a practice-type mentality when you are first on the ice and then you get acclimated.

“Obviously, once the puck drops you are ready to go and know what to do. It’s definitely a unique experience once you get going.”

When he played at Fenway Park as a freshman at Union College, Shayne Gostisbehere said his only regret was not taking time out to just stop and absorb what was happening around him.

He was so focused on the game against Harvard that day in 2012, he forgot to cherish the moment.

MacDonald said that is something NHL players sometimes forget to do, as well. Take it all in because it might never occur again.

“Everyone is a little different,” he said. “You do have to play it as if it’s like every other game. There is a little adjustment period there with the fans so far away.

“That being said, you have an opportunity to embrace the moment. At the same time, you have to focus on what we’re trying to accomplish out there. Try to get the win like any other time.”

Loose pucks
• Flyers forward Jakub Voracek left the ice early Thursday with a slight limp. He was not available after practice but general manager Ron Hextall confirmed Voracek is fine and will play Saturday. The Flyers' leading scorer was hit with a deflected puck earlier this week in practice in his groin area but played without incident during Wednesday's game against Washington. 

• The Flyers left for Pittsburgh this afternoon.