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  • Hockey’s Most Valuable Teams

    When it comes to the P&L statement, the NHL has become a two-tiered league.

    When it comes to profits and team valuations, the NHL has become a two-tiered league.

    In Pictures: Hockey’s Most Valuable Teams

    There is parity on the ice in hockey. Since a lockout canceled the National Hockey League’s 2004-’05 season and ushered in the salary cap era, a different team has won the Stanley Cup every year. Two big-market teams (Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks), one mid-market team (Detroit Red Wings) and two small-market teams (Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins) have won the championship. You can root for hockey almost anywhere in the U.S. and Canada and have a shot at seeing a local team capture the Cup.

    But when it comes to the P&L statement, the NHL has become a two-tiered league. During the 2009-’10 season the 30 teams combined to generate $160 million of operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) on revenue (net of proceeds required for arena debt) of $2.9 billion. But seven teams (the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Black Hawks and Vancouver Canucks) combined to earn $241 million, with none making less than $13 million. Meanwhile, 16 teams were in the red, with the six biggest money-losers (Phoenix Coyotes, Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals, Atlanta Thrashers, Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning) dropping an aggregate of $63 million.

    The big disparity in profit can almost always be explained by local television rights and arena economics. The Maple Leafs, Canadiens and Rangers each generate more than $25 million a year from their cable rights fees and more than $40 million from premium seating (luxury suites and club seats). In contrast, the Coyotes, Lightning and Thrashers each pull in less than $10 million from local television and under $15 million from premium seating.

    Slide Show: Hockey’s Most Valuable Teams

    The gap in profits has greatly affected team values.

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