3-for-30: How the NHL’s Top-3 Teams Keep the League Afloat

A look at the key economic indicators of all 30 NHL franchises (See table at document’s end for details)

Operating Income

The total operating income in 2010-2011 for the 30 NHL franchises was $160M (SEE TABLE BELOW). However, if you remove the top 3 teams – Toronto, New York R, and Montreal – operating losses totaled 17 million. In fact, if you remove the top 8 teams, (all extremely healthy franchises), operating losses were $83 million. The root of the problem lies with the unstable franchises in the bottom 9. Of the $83 million in operating losses, they account for $76 million, or about $8 million each. Even still, it’s disconcerting that the thirteen teams in the middle of the pack lost $7 million. And these are just operating losses (You can make an operating profit and still run a loss overall). The Phoenix Coyotes are known to have lost over $30 million last year, while many estimate the Atlanta Thrashers’ loss to exceed $40 million.

Franchise Values

Collectively, the franchises are worth $166 million more than in 2009-2010, for an average increase of $5.5M per team. However, once again the top 3 heavily skew those statistics. Toronto, New York, and Montreal collectively gained $151M in value, meaning the value of the other 28 franchises increased by only $15 million.

In fact, of the 30 franchises, 14 are actually worth less in 2011 than at the end of 2010. And as with operating income, the bottom 9 franchises substantially decreased in value –  $92 million – while the middle 13 increased by a paltry $9 million. So the NHL’s economic structure mirrors the rest of society – the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. Continue reading