- Detroit, Michigan is known by many fans as 'HockeyTown.'
- The Toronto Maple Leafs have not won a championship in 52 years, the longest drought in the NHL.
- Alexander Ovechkin is the highest-scoring Russian player to ever play in the NHL.
The National Hockey League (NHL) is one of the most successful professional sports leagues in the world, in terms of its popularity, fan support and of course, revenue generated.
Established in 1917 with just six teams, the NHL has since expanded to 31 teams (soon to be 32) over the course of their history. Each franchise, in their own way and in their own time, has had to endure inaugural setbacks, sophomore slumps and even devastating droughts, but ultimately have built iconic organizations that have become staples in their community. The support for hockey across North America and the world has led to a National Hockey League that features many successful and lucrative franchises. Here are the top 10 most valuable NHL teams based on the recent statistics from 2019.
10. Vancouver Canucks-$740 million
The Vancouver Canucks represent the province of British Columbia in Canada and joined the NHL in 1970. Formerly called the 'Millionaires', the Canucks are a fitting franchise to kick off this list at No.10, with a value of $740 million while generating $167 million in revenue. In 52 years the Canucks have made the Stanley Cup Finals three times, (1982, 1994, 2011) but still remain the only team on this list that has yet to win a championship.
9. Washington Capitals-$775 million
At No.9 are the Washington Capitals, valued at $775 million, with a revenue stream of $180 million. It shouldn't come as a big surprise to see the Capitals on this list, considering they feature one of the most exciting and dynamic players to ever lace up the skates. Alexander Ovechkin is a generational talent and a huge draw for hockey fans, and has dazzled spectators for the last 15 seasons. He is the highest scoring Russian player of all time, and as their captain, led the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup in 2018.
8. Detroit Red Wings-$800 million
The Detroit Red Wings have been one of the most consistent models for success in the NHL over the years. Valued at $800 million, the Red Wings are one of the oldest hockey franchises in the league, with a well-established fan base, which is why Detroit is known by many fans as 'HockeyTown' to this day. Founded in 1926, and a member of the 'Original Six', the first name for the team was actually the 'Cougars', then the 'Falcons', and finally the 'Red Wings' in 1932. Detroit has won 11 Stanley Cups in their franchise history, which is more than any other American team, and is third most in the league, behind the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens.
7. Philadelphia Flyers-$825 million
Notoriously known as the 'Broadstreet Bullies' the Philadelphia Flyers were the first expansion team in the NHL, joining the league in 1967. The Flyers quickly built a reputation for their gritty, blue-collar, style of play which attracted fans in droves. It wasn't until 1973-74 that the organization reached its pinnacle, capturing their first of back-to-back Stanley Cups. (1974, 1975).
The game has changed in recent years, moving away from the Flyers original style of play, allowing for more skill and speed as opposed to brute force and intimidation, so Philadelphia has had to adjust their identity. Still, they have kept their organic, hard-working attitude, which has kept fans in the seats consistently each season. The Flyers value last season was $825 million, with a revenue of $187 million.
6. Los Angeles Kings-$850 million
The Los Angeles Kings are valued at $850 million with a generated revenue of $203 million. The fact that a hockey team in Hollywood, CA has actually been successful enough to even make this list is first and foremost, credited to Wayne Gretzky. 'The Great One' was traded to the Kings from the Edmonton Oilers in 1988 in a successful marketing tactic to help grow the sport in newer (and sunnier) U.S. markets. When Gretzky came to the Kings, he brought with him the foundations for fan support in L.A. for years to come. Just two years following their first ever Stanley Cup appearance in 1993, the Kings were forced to file for bankruptcy in 1995 but the franchise has seen a resurgence in revenue since then, after winning two Stanley Cups in the last decade, first in 2011-12 and again in 2013-14.
5. Boston Bruins - $1 billion
The Boston Bruins are an 'Original Six' team in the NHL, first established in 1924 and growing into a $1 billion operation by 2019. The Bruins logo has become iconic over the years, displayed most prominently on the chest of legend, Bobby Orr, who is immortalized in photos like the 'flying goal'. Boston is another franchise built on an ideal of grit and hard-work, which is a successful model in regards to attracting like-minded fans. As with any sport, winning is paramount for success, and the Bruins have established themselves recently as one of the most consistent teams in the NHL, winning six Stanley Cups overall, the most recent back in 2010-11.
4. Chicago Blackhawks-$1.085 Billion
The Chicago Blackhawks are another 'Original Six' team to make this list (and it won't be the last.) Establishing in 1926 the 'Hawks were originally purchased for just $1 million, but today are worth $1.085 billion, generating annual revenue of $208 million. It wasn't always easy, however, as Chicago has suffered through some lean years in their history but with incredible draft-savvy and a little luck, it has allowed the Blackhawks to build from within and establish a winning culture, once again. Chicago has won three Stanley Cups since 2009-10, and is tied with Boston with six championships each.
3. Montreal Canadiens - $1.34 Billion
Boasting arguably the most prolific and legendary assemblance of players in NHL history, the Montreal Canadiens are the third highest grossing team in the league at $1.34 billion. The Canadiens' home is in Montreal, Quebec which is a bilingual speaking city, consisting of English and French speaking citizens. Along with its historic and cultural roots, the Canadiens organization has featured some of the most iconic French-Canadian players the game has ever seen like Guy Lafluer, Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau or Patrick Roy (among many others.) Established as an 'Original Six' team, no franchise has been as successful over time than the Montreal Canadiens, winning 26 Stanley Cups in total, but they have not done so since 1993.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs - $1.5 Billion
The Toronto Maple Leafs play in the epicentre of the hockey world and are arguably one of the most recognizable teams in the NHL. Valued at $1.5 billion, the Maple Leafs (also a member of the Original Six) are credited with 13 Stanley Cups in total. Most of that success came in the 1950's and 1960's but since then the Leafs have had trouble winning the ultimate prize. Maple Leafs fans are loud, loyal and long-suffering and still avidly support their team, despite the fact Toronto has failed to win a championship in 52 years, the longest championship drought in the NHL.
1. New York Rangers-$1.65 billion
Playing out of Madison Square Gardens in the 'city that never sleeps', the New York Rangers are the highest grossing franchise at $1.65 billion. An average ticket to a Rangers' game can cost $158 dollars each for basic seats, and factoring in the high-profile nature of some New Yorkers, those ticket prices can run much, much higher. So, even when the team isn't winning, it still is able to generate $270 million in revenue. Of their 4 Stanley Cups championships, the most memorable run was likely in 1994 when Rangers' captain, Mark Messier, guaranteed a Game 6 victory in the Eastern Conference Finals and scored three goals that night to seal the win. The Rangers would later advance and defeat the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup in 1994.