Which Teams are the NHL's Most Valuable Franchises?

NHL Dec 16, 2020

Forbes released their rankings recently of all the major sports franchises according to their perceived values.  

We're not talking just hundreds of millions here, but billions – with a "B."

The usual suspects topped the list.

"(The top) honor now belongs to the Dallas Cowboys, who top the Forbes ranking of the 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams for the fifth straight year, at $5.5 billion, edging out the $5 billion New York Yankees."


Given neither of these top-two franchises – the Cowboys nor the Yankees -- have won a league championship in the last decade (the Cowboys' drought has lasted 24 seasons....and counting), a team's estimated value has little or nothing to do with victories.  It's all about marketing, merchandising, stadium ownership, and the money that comes in from television.

Business Insider appears to agree.  Here's their list compiled among all of the world's sports teams:

So, what is the most valuable sports team in Canada?

In 2019, the NBA's Toronto Raptors surprised a few people.  They not only won their first world championship.  They also eclipsed MLB's Toronto Blue Jays, as well as two storied NHL franchises – the Canadiens and Maple Leafs in terms of total wealth.

"The Toronto Raptors have eclipsed Canada’s NHL teams and the Blue Jays to become the most valuable sports franchise in the country, the Toronto Star reports.  The team is worth an estimated $1.8 billion, but could sell for more than $2 billion, analysts estimate."  


So, what about the NHL?

Due mostly to their lucrative annual television contract, the New York Rangers remain the most valuable team in hockey.  But the margins have been narrowing steadily in recent years, with two Canadian franchises now in the top three.

In fact, one could argue that the Montreal Canadiens deserve to be #1 based on their deep-rooted tradition and dominance as the most popular team throughout Quebec.  The Toronto Maple Leafs, just as popular in Ontario and points beyond, are also in the running.

Let's put this another way:  Clearly, more television viewers are watching the Canadiens and Maple Leafs regular season games every night than the Rangers.

Ever heard of "Hockey Night in Canada?"

One interesting tidbit.  If you believe that owning and operating an NHL team is always profitable, then think again.  

By Forbes’ estimates, 16 hockey teams were in the positive in operating income last year, with 15 negative.  Of course, the value of all teams does increase over time.

Here's the entire list, compiled in an article titled, "The Business of Hockey."