Hey, did you know that the Toronto Maple Leafs are the most valuable team in the NHL? Well, now you know, thanks to Forbes' "The Business of Hockey" team valuation report. Apparently mediocrity sells, because the Leafs are worth about a billion dollars. Success and finishing second in the Western Conference? Having tons of sell-outs? Being Central Division Champions? Not so lucrative.
According to Forbes' report, the St. Louis Blues are the least valuable team in the entire NHL. In contrast to the Maple Leafs' $1 billion price tag, the Blues come in at just $130 million. Forbes had to look at the recent sale of the Blues, which happened back in May, and which included the Peoria Rivermen, the lease of the Scottrade Arena, and part ownership of the Peabody Opera House. There you go, instant valuation!
When the sale went down, some folks thought that the price was a bit low. Unfortunately, in case you missed it, the economy has been terrible since October of 2008 and any recovery has been slow. Things that are normally worth a lot of value don't sell for a lot of value during down times, ergo the price. All the smart money management and sellouts in the world isn't going to help much if you can't get full value of the team.
The issue here is that the team has been more than cost-conscious when it comes to signing free agents and throwing out money. The Blues are fifth from the bottom in terms of payroll, with just $53,649,999. In contrast, the top paying team, the Boston Bruins, has a payroll of about $15 million more than the Blues and rank fifth in terms of worth. This frugality has gotten them an operating deficit of $10 million.
How? Their revenue was only $89 million. What caused this in a banner year? Again, it's the economy. It's hurting people's ability to spend money on the team. It's not a matter of want, but it's a matter of ability for people.
Now, of course, after this lockout it'll be a matter of both for every team. Obviously no team's making money right now aside from merchandising and advertising cuts, really -- and those are going down too. Next year the Blues will have to try to make up that $10 million deficit along with losses incurred during the lockout... and I'm pretty sure that you all know where that's coming from.
That one big money scoring threat everyone wants? You all are going to have to wait. The Blues'll have to get stuff done the way that they did last season: grit, determination, and the Ken Hitchcock defensive system. The more prepared fans are for the reality of the next several seasons, the better. But hey, at least their wins to player cost ratio is way above the league average -- so that's a sign that they're doing something right regardless of price.