It's the best time of year!
Earlier this week, Forbes released its annual list of what each 30 NHL teams are valued. Toronto tops the list at $505 million, while Phoenix sits at the bottom at $134 million. Whether the numbers are accurate or not, that got Patrick and I thinking… which franchise would we pay the most money to own (if we were in that position, obviously)?
The Bleu, Blanc et Rouge
By Ryan Porth
If I was a prospective owner in the NHL and had a pick of 30 teams, the first team I’d put up hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase would be the Montreal Canadiens. How could it not be?
It’s the most storied franchise in hockey – all of sports? – dating all the way back to 1909. 24 Stanley Cups (first in the NHL)… 44 Hall of Famers (second)… 17 retired jerseys (first)… 101 years of history.
As an owner, looking down on the most prestigious organization on this continent would be a treat. You’d never have to worry about ticket sales. You’d never have to worry about the lack of money to spend on personnel. You’d know that year in and year out that your team is a playoff contender.
And how could it not be fun to be the owner of a team that makes a Cinderella run in the playoffs – like last year’s Habs? From eight seed to conference final, it was a compelling magic carpet ride. In Montreal, playoff home games can generate millions of dollars in revenue.
The Bell Centre is currently on a streak of 263 consecutive sellouts, and that run doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon. It has to be rewarding for an owner to know that 22,000 fans will be packing your building on a nightly basis.
The fan base is crazy, passionate and in love with its team. The city itself loves the game so much that it’s known as the ‘mecca of hockey’.
Historically, the Canadiens have had some of the best players this league has ever seen: Richard, Beliveau, Lafleur, Roy… we could be here all day! The current-day Canadiens don’t possess any elite-level talent like this; but players like Carey Price, Michael Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec have the team in first place in the Northeast Division.
My lone worry about owning the Habs (or any other Canadian team) would be the Canadian dollar. However, it’s on the way up and, though it isn’t the same as America’s, it hasn’t put a halt to free agents going to Montreal. If anything, it’s the day-to-day pressure of wearing the Canadiens sweater that can turn away players.
Last but not least, how can you forget about the mascot? Youppi is one the most beloved mascots in all of sports!
All kidding aside, owning the Montreal Canadiens would top any of the other 29 teams. No one else can surpass the prestige, history and mystique that surrounds this Canadiens franchise.
Olay, olay, olay, olay…
The Broad Street Bullies
By Patrick Hoffman
If given a choice to own one franchise in the NHL, I’d likely choose the Philadelphia Flyers. Yes, I am a New York Rangers fan but I believe in Philadelphia, there is a lot more to build on.
Let’s start with what has happened recently. Last season, the Broad Street Bullies fought hard to clinch a playoff spot in the last game of the regular season with a shootout win over the New York Rangers and then carried that momentum all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Secondly, the team is built to have success years down the line. You look at guys like Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux, Ville Leino, along with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, and you have a young core to build around and bring excitement to the franchise.
It should also be said that this Flyers hockey club could potentially win a Stanley Cup within the next few years with the roster they have now. With a current record of 15-7-4 and the team just four points out of the Eastern Conference lead, there is good reason to think that this team could even win it all this year given how close they were last season.
When owning a franchise, you also have to look at other factors besides the on-ice product. The Flyers have a very loyal fan base and manage to fill the Wells Fargo Center every home game. This means a ton of sales regarding food vendors, single-game tickets, season tickets, team merchandise along with other revenue-generating tactics.
All-in-all, I would pay the most for this franchise because the pieces are already in place to be successful. The Flyers have a chance to accomplish something extremely special within the next few years if they play their cards right, which means I would be getting the most bang for my buck right out of the gate as a team owner.
I would also pay the most for this franchise because I know that whatever I spend to make my team better, I will get it returned to me through the loyal fan base, the ticket sales, the merchandise sales, sales throughout the arena, and of course, the product on the ice.
If given the opportunity to own an NHL club, I would definitely jump on board with the Philadelphia Flyers franchise.
*Note: According to Forbes, the Canadiens’ franchise is worth $408 million; Philadelphia comes in at $301 mil.
So let's turn this around to you, fans... which franchise would you pay the most to own?
Photos credit: Getty Images and AP
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