Despite being awful, Detroit Red Wings still one of NHL’s most valuable teams

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
| Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Red Wings were the worst team in the NHL last season, winning just 17 games — and four of those were against one opponent.

They’re still one of the most valuable franchises in the league, according to Forbes writers Mike Ozanian and Kurt Badenhausen.

Forbes does an annual analysis of each franchise’s value, and this year’s report showed a drop in revenue, which was to be expected after COVID-19 forced a shutdown in March. When the NHL staged the 2020 playoffs in August and September, it was without fans in the stands.

The Wings have not played since losing to the Carolina Hurricanes on March 10, ensuring a last-place finish with a 17-49-5 record.

At the time of the shutdown, the Wings were the only team mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Still, being an Original Six team with a passionate fan base helps. Forbes had the Wings valued at $775 million, which ranks eighth in the NHL.

Mike Ilitch bought the Wings in 1982 for $8 million.

According to Forbes, everything that encompasses fan attendance — ticket and suite sales, in-arena food and beverage purchases, etc. — makes up around 70% of revenue for teams.

[Detroit Red Wings skate at Little Caesars Arena for the first time in 9 months ]

Forbes estimated the Wings’ revenue dropped 3%. The breakdown for revenue to operating costs was $157 million to $31 million.

The New York Rangers – who were part of the playoff bubble and then got the no. 1 pick in the 2020 draft – came in first, valued at $1.65 billion. The top five spots were all Original Six teams, with the Toronto Maple Leafs ($1.5 billion) and Montreal Canadiens (1.34 billion), Chicago Blackhawks ($1.085 billion) and Boston Bruins ($1 billion) followed the Rangers.

The Wings beat Montreal four times, and Boston, twice.

[With NHL season on horizon, Detroit Red Wings face mountain of questions ]

The Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning was in the bottom third. The franchise is valued at $470 million, ranking 21st. The Arizona Coyotes finished in 31st place, valued at $285 million.

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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