Ranking the NHL Teams Most Likely to Face Contraction
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It is not the most popular of topics.
It is harsh. It will be painful for those involved.
The subject is contraction in the NHL.
Forbes Magazines's most recent valuations pointed out that the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens make the majority of the money. Other teams like the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks also make a profit.
But there are several teams that have lost more than $10 million per year and it doesn't seem likely these teams will ever be successful on a long-term basis.
While we don't advocate contraction, here are six teams that could be contracted if the NHL ever decides to go that route.
6. New York Islanders
The New York Islanders had one of the most successful dynasties in NHL history.
They ran off four straight titles between 1980 and 1983 and they were appreciated for their excellence on the ice.
However, the New York City metropolitan area belongs to the New York Rangers. The Islanders will never be more than second-class citizens.
They are also behind the New Jersey Devils in the New York area in terms of on-ice consistency and popularity.
The Islanders will be moving to Brooklyn's new Barclay Center in 2015, so there is hope for the future. However, based on their lack of popularity, the poor condition of the Nassau Coliseum and the brutal competition that they face, the Islanders have to be considered a prime contraction candidate.
Forbes valued the Islanders franchise at $155 million (27th in the NHL) and said they lost $16 million last year.
5. Phoenix Coyotes
When the owners of the Winnipeg Jets decided they could no longer make a go of it in that Canadian outpost following the 1995-96 season, they decided to bring NHL hockey to the desert.
While it seemed far-fetched, Phoenix had been the home of minor-league hockey teams and was the one-time host of a World Hockey Association team called the Phoenix Roadrunners.
NHL hockey is a curiosity in the desert. Fans may show up from time to time, but the team cannot make a go of it on its own. The team has been run by the NHL for several years and the league is waiting for prospective owner Greg Jamison to complete the financial transaction and take control of the team.
That has not happened as of Jan. 30, although Sporting News said that it could happen shortly.
Forbes Magazine valued the Coyotes at $134 million (29th in the NHL) and said they lost $20.6 million last season.
4. Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes are a team of carpetbaggers.
When the Hartford Whalers decided they could no longer make a go of it in Connecticut, they moved to the heart of basketball country prior to the 1997-98 season.
They have been a curiosity in North Carolina. The Hurricanes shockingly won the Stanley Cup in 2006, but they have been a playoff team just once since then.
There is some interest in hockey in North Carolina, but not enough for this team to be successful.
Forbes estimated the Hurricanes' value at $162 million (26th in the NHL) and said the team lost $9.4 million in 2011-12.
3. Columbus Blue Jackets
The NHL brought teams to Minneapolis-St. Paul and Columbus, Ohio when it decided to expand prior to the start of the 2000-01 season.
The city of Columbus is noted for its relationship to college sports and college football in particular. OSU is one of the most popular college football teams in the nation and gets more than 100,000 fans in everyday attendance at Ohio Stadium.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are not as popular and have not established a true foothold in Ohio.
The Blue Jackets have struggled badly on the ice, making the NHL playoffs only once following the 2008-2009 regular season and being eliminated in four straight games by the Detroit Red Wings.
Forbes estimates the Blue Jackets' worth at $145 million (28th in the NHL) and said they lost $18.7 million last year.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been trying to gain a foothold in central Florida since Phil Esposito first headed the team's expansion effort in 1992-93. That was the team's first season in the NHL.
The Lightning have had some success on the ice. They made the playoff for four consecutive seasons starting in 2002-03 and they also won the Stanley Cup in an exciting seven-game series over the Calgary Flames in 2003-04.
The current version of the team boasts Steven Stamkos, one of the best players in the league. The Lightning also made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2011 playoffs.
However, Tampa Bay struggles badly from a financial perspective.
Forbes Magazine estimated their value at $174 million (23rd in the NHL) and said that they lost $13.1 million last year.
1. Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers have been trying get comfortable in their South Florida home since their first season in 1993-94.
They had some memorable early success when they went to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Colorado Avalanche in 1995-96, their third season in existence.
The Panthers shocked the hockey world by winning the Southeast Division last year, marking the first time they earned a playoff spot since 1999-2000.
But they've also been a consistent money-losing proposition.
Forbes estimated their value at $170 million (24th in the NHL) and said they lost $12 million last year.