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Forbes finds 13 NHL teams lost money; Penguins tops in fan rankings

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Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 8:30 p.m.

A first day of federally mediated negotiations between the NHL and its Players' Association coincided with a Forbes report that 13 of the league's 30 clubs lost money last season.

The Penguins rated ninth with an estimated value of $288 million — but only a $9.1 million operating income (earnings before interest/taxes). The local NHL club also ranked first in Forbes' fan and third in the bang-for-buck rankings.

“This validates what we've known all along — that we have the greatest fans in hockey,” Penguins vice president of communications Tom McMillan said.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are worth $1 billion. They are the first NHL club to hit that plateau in the history of Forbes' franchise value rankings.

The NHL has a big problem with its top and bottom team Forbes staffer Kurt Badenhausen said.

“The NHL wants to get a (labor) contract in place that will put a much higher floor on franchise values,” he said.

The numbers reported by Forbes, which does not divulge its methods and/or sources, is not endorsed by the NHL — though most club officials believe the general findings are accurate. Some notable numbers in the latest rankings:

• The average club is worth $282 million, an 18 percent increase.

• The five most valuable clubs (Maple Leafs, Rangers, Canadiens, Blackhawks and Bruins) are worth an average of $605 million. The five least-valuable (Hurricanes, Islanders, Blue Jackets, Coyotes and Blues) are worth an average of $145 million.

The NHLPA has disputed that the NHL is in a financial bind because the league reported record $3.3 billion revenue last season.

A lockout was enacted Sept. 15, and games are canceled through Dec. 14. The NHL and union are at odds over revenue definition and split, money to guarantee current contracts, and contractual issues such as max term limits and free agency.

The Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service (FMCS) oversaw a bargaining session Wednesday, and neither the NHL nor NHLPA is expected to comment publicly on the state of negotiations until after the latest meetings broke.

The sides are expected to meet again with FMCS on Thursday.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-380-5635.

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