Like most professional sports league around the world, the NHL took it on the chin financially in 2020 due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. However, some of the league’s 31 clubs absorbed more of a financial loss than others. The teams that ended the year in better were those with strong local broadcasting radio and television deals.
Since fans weren’t allowed in arenas once the league placed its schedule on hold in mid-March it meant teams had to do without critical cash revenue from ticket, sponsorship, parking and concession sales. Of course, the same thing was true during the summer months when the postseason took place inside of bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton.
This meant the Tampa Bay Lightning weren’t able to cash in on their long playoff run which resulted in the franchise’s second Stanley Cup championship. In comparison, the previous two cup winners, the Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues raked in approximately $20 million each in their postseason runs.
The NHL ended up playing 85 per cent of its scheduled 82-game regular season with fans in attendance in 2019/20 and it looks like just 56 contests will be played by each squad in 2020/21. However, the question of spectators being allowed in arenas is still up in the air.. at least for the start of the campaign, which the NHL hopes will face off in mid-January.
The financial fallout of the pandemic-plagued 2019/20 season has resulted in the average NHL franchise losing two per cent of its value compared to the previous year. The average club value, which was recently announced by Forbes magazine, has declined to $653 million. This represents the first drop in value for the average club since 2001.
Revenue for the league totalled $4.4 billion for 2019/20 which was a 14 per cent decrease from 2018/19 while operating income fell 68 per cent to just $250 million. Twenty-five per cent of the NHL’s revenue last season came from just five teams, which happen to be the five most valuable in the league.
According to Forbes, the New York Rangers top this list with a value of $1.65 billion followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs at $1.5 billion, the Montreal Canadiens at $1.34 billion, the Chicago Blackhawks at $1.085 billion and the Boston Bruins at an even $1 billion. All of these clubs enjoy profitable local broadcasting deals which in part helps make up for the league’s less-than-impressive national broadcasting contract.
The NHL’s national deals with Canadian and American broadcasters saw each club earn $20 million last season while NFL clubs were each paid $260 million per team due to the NFL’s national broadcasting deals. The Montreal Canadiens local broadcasting contracts were worth over $50 million last year with Toronto making fore than $40 million and the New York Rangers approximately $35 million.
In total, it’s estimated the league missed out over $200 million in postseason revenue by playing in bubble arenas without fans this summer and fall. In addition, the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the players’ association sees the revenue split evenly at 50 per cent. However, the league planned on 2019/20 revenue to reach approximately $5.4 billion and didn’t hold enough back in escrow from players’ salaries to guarantee a 50 per cent split. This resulted in the players receiving more than 50 per cent of the revenue.
Forbes reported that nine of 31 NHL teams lost at least $10 million in operating income in 2019/20 which was an increase over the five teams that lost double-digit figures the previous season. The New York Islanders reportedly lost the most at $37.9 million even though the franchise’s value remained the same at $520 million. Hopefully things will pick up for the club though in 2021/22 when it moves to a new home arena.
The average team debt in 2020 is listed at $144 million compared to $127 million in 2019 and those losses are expected to continue in 2020/21.
The following is Forbes’ list of the NHL’s franchises, their 2020 value and operating income or loss in U.S. dollars:
- New York Rangers: $1.65 billion-Operating Income: $87 million
- Toronto Maple Leafs: $1.5 billion-Operating Income: $56.3 million
- Montreal Canadiens: $1.34 billion-Operating Income: $86.5 million
- Chicago Blackhawks: $1.085 billion-Operating Income: $45.3 million
- Boston Bruins: $1 billion-Operating Income: $26.8 million
- Los Angeles Kings: $825 million-Operating Income: $45.3 million
- Philadelphia Flyers: $800 million-Operating Income: $7.9 million
- Detroit Red Wings: $775 million-Operating Income: $31.2 million
- Washington Capitals: $750 million-Operating Income: $7.7 million
- Vancouver Canucks: $725 million-Operating Income: $2.9 million
- Pittsburgh Penguins: $650 million-Operating Income: $14 million
- Dallas Stars: $575 million-Operating Income: $4.5 million
- Vegas Golden Knights: $570 million-Operating Income: $13.9 million
- Edmonton Oilers: $550 million-Operating Income: $16.9 million
- New Jersey Devils: $530 million-Operating Income: $4.1 million
- New York Islanders: $520 million-Operating Income: -$37.9 million
- San Jose Sharks: $515 million-Operating Income: –$14.7 million
- St Louis Blues: $510 million-Operating Income: –$8.2 million
- Minnesota Wild: $500 million-Operating Income: –$6.2 million
- Calgary Flames: $480 million-Operating Income: $400,000
- Tampa Bay Lightning: $470 million-Operating Income: –$8.3 million
- Colorado Avalanche: $465 million-Operating Income: –$10 million
- Anaheim Ducks: $460 million-Operating Income: –$9.1 million
- Carolina Hurricanes: $440 million-Operating Income:–$15 million
- Nashville Predators: $435 million-Operating Income: –$13.4 million
- Ottawa Senators: $430 million-Operating Income: –$2.9 million
- Winnipeg Jets: $405 million-Operating Income: –$7.6 million
- Buffalo Sabres: $385 million-Operating Income:–$10.9 million
- Columbus Blue Jackets: $310 million-Operating Income: –$10.3 million
- Florida Panthers: $295 million-Operating Income: –$28.9 million
- Arizona Coyotes: $285 million-Operating Income: –$17 million