NHL Lockout 2012: 3 Teams That May Not Be Back If the Season Is Lost

Nicholas Goss@@NicholasGoss35Correspondent IDecember 24, 2012

NHL Lockout 2012: 3 Teams That May Not Be Back If the Season Is Lost

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    One of the outcomes of another cancelled season might be the elimination of a few NHL franchises.

    If there's no season, some of the franchises that are struggling financially may be in trouble because very little revenue would be earned, and some fans may never come back to NHL arenas and support these teams.

    Let's look at three teams whose existence may be in trouble if the 2012-13 season is lost.


    Note: All team attendance numbers via ESPN

Phoenix Coyotes

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    The Phoenix Coyotes might find it difficult to survive another lost season since they earned the second-lowest revenue during 2011-12, according to Forbes.

    They also lost the most money of all 30 teams last year with an operating income of -$20.6 million.

    Complicating the situation further is the team's lackluster attendance numbers over the last few seasons.

    Year Attendance % NHL Rank
    2006-07 85.6 23rd
    2007-08 84.7 24th
    2008-09 85.0 27th
    2009-10 68.5 30th
    2010-11 71.2 29th
    2011-12 72.5 30th

    Three straight seasons with the worst or second-worst attendance percentage is not a good situation to be in. Another lost season would likely keep the Coyotes at the bottom of the league's attendance rankings.

    If the Coyotes don't survive the lockout, it's hard to imagine the team being contracted. The best scenario for everyone involved would be to sell the team (currently valued at $134 million, according to Forbes) to a person or group that would move the team to a stronger market.

Florida Panthers

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    The Florida Panthers may be a team on the rise in regard to their on-ice performance, but they lost $12.1 million last year, which according to Forbes, was the fourth-highest loss among all teams during the 2011-12 season.

    The Panthers also ranked 26th in the NHL in revenue earned last season, according to Forbes. On the bright side, Florida's attendance numbers got better last season.

    Year Attendance % NHL Rank
    2006-07 79.8
    2007-08 80.2
    2008-09 81.2
    2009-10 78.7
    2010-11 81.5
    2011-12 86.6

    In the likely event that Florida doesn't return to the playoffs next season, will the team's attendance improve for the second straight year? A lost season could drive away a lot of the fans who were responsible for the rise in attendance during 2011-12.

    A lost season would result in a missed opportunity for the team's young core to develop and build some important team chemistry.

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    The Columbus Blue Jackets fell to the bottom of the NHL standings last season and have no superstars to draw fans or market outside their own region.

    Making matters worse is the fact that the franchise lost $18.7 million last season, and according to Forbes, the Phoenix Coyotes were the only franchise to lose more money in 2011-12.

    Only two teams earned less revenue last year than the Blue Jackets. Columbus' recent attendance numbers also aren't very good.

    Year Attendance % NHL Rank
    2006-07 90.4
    2007-08 81.7
    2008-09 85.7
    2009-10 85.0
    2010-11 75.3
    2011-12 80.8

    The lockout, along with the team's decision to trade captain Rick Nash to the New York Rangers without getting a star talent in return, hasn't given hockey fans in Ohio many reasons to purchase season tickets.

    If the 2012-13 season is lost, hockey fans' interest in the NHL across central Ohio might decline quite a bit.