As with the NBA, one thing that is likely to be lost during the negotiations for a new NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is that some NHL cities just don’t deserve to have an NHL team. To illustrate that I’ve put together a list of seven cities that, for various reasons, are very difficult markets for their NHL teams. Perhaps the NHL should make sure its teams are located in suitable markets before it asks its players to cut back their salaries.
A quick explanation of terms is at the bottom, because we know that everyone would rather get to the good stuff first!
- Metro Population:
- Pro teams: 2
- Total Personal Income: $43.4 billion
- Available Personal Income: -$30.9 billion
- W/L: 1569 Wins, 1219 Losses, 409 Ties, 83 OT Losses, 55.3% of available points
- Playoff Appearances: 29 times in 41 years, 70.7%
- Attendance since 2000-01: 7,941,830 (11th); 94% capacity (14th)
- Metro Population: 2,356,285
- Pro teams: 3
- Total Personal Income: $103.0 billion
- Available Personal Income: -$56.7 billion
- W/L: 1507 Wins, 1530 Losses, 383 Ties, 86 OT Losses, 49.7% of available points
- Playoff Appearances: 27 times in 44 years, 61.4%
- Attendance since 2000-01: 7,325,586 (20th); 94% capacity (13th)
- Metro Population: 3,279,833
- Pro teams: 4
- Total Personal Income: $154.5 billion
- Available Personal Income: -$39.4 billion
- W/L: 405 Wins, 362 Losses, 55 Ties, 80 OT Losses, 52.4% of available points
- Playoff Appearances: 3 times in 11 years, 27.3%
- Attendance since 2000-01: 8,275,142 (7th); 102% capacity (2nd)
Minneapolis-St. Paul is a large market, but not large enough to support its four pro teams. As things are, the region is overextended by $39.4 billion. The Wild are a relatively new team, having joined the NHL for the 2000-01 season, but since that time, the team has had excellent attendance (over 100% of capacity) and fielded some decent teams (although this hasn’t translated to many playoff appearances yet). Minneapolis has a cold climate, perfect for NHL hockey — Minneapolis (44°59′ N) is actually farther north than Toronto (43°42′ N), and just a tiny bit south of hockey crazy cities Ottawa (45°25′ N) and Montreal (45°31′ N), two cities with climates similar to the Twin cities. It would make more sense to relocate the perennially underachieving Timberwolves instead.
4. St. Louis
- Metro Population: 2,812,896
- Pro teams: 3
- Total Personal Income: $117.4 billion
- Available Personal Income: -$ 42.3 billion
- W/L: 1544 Wins, 1429 Losses, 432 Ties, 101 OT Losses, 51.6% of available points
- Playoff Appearances: 36 times in 44 years, 81.8%
- Attendance since 2000-01: 7,990,897 (10th); 93% capacity (18th)
The Blues have an amazing ability to make the playoffs: in 44 seasons, the team has only missed the playoffs eight times. The fans are also supportive as well — the Blues rank 10th in terms of total attendance since 2000-01. The only problem is that St. Louis is a market that is overextended by about $42.3 billion. With three teams to choose from, the Cardinals are likely out of the question. Given the choice between the Blues and the Rams — who have only made the playoffs five times out of 17 seasons and post poor attendance figures year after year — would St. Louisans stick with the Blues, or go for the crappy NFL team? I fear that the region may err on the side of football, despite the Blues’ long history.
- Metro Population: 2,783,243
- Pro teams: 3
- Total Personal Income: $105.6 billion
- Available Personal Income:-$ 54.1billion
- W/L: 588 Wins, 732 Losses, 112 Ties, 96 OT Losses, 45.3% of available points
- Playoff Appearances: 6 times in 19 years, 31.6%
- Attendance since 2000-01: 7,864,025 (12th); 91% capacity (20th)
- Metro Population: 4,192,887
- Pro teams: 4
- Total Personal Income: $152.8 billion
- Available Personal Income: -$ 41.1 billion
- W/L: 557 Wins, 498 Losses, 94 Ties, 81 OT Losses, 52.4% of available points
- Playoff Appearances: 8 times in 15 years, 53.3%
- Attendance since 2000-01: 6,258,797 (28th); 82% capacity (28th)
- Metro Population: 2,543,482
- Pro teams: 5
- Total Personal Income: $121.9 billion
- Available Personal Income: -$ 87.4 billion
- W/L: 677 Wins, 462 Losses, 101 Ties, 72 OT Losses, 58.2% of available points
- Playoff Appearances: 12 times in 16 years, 75%
- Attendance since 2000-01: 7,551,655 (18th); 93% capacity (17th)
I said this last time, and I’ll say it again: Denver is the most overextended sports market in North America. While it is a large market, there are five pro teams there! In order to break even, the city would have to lose either the Rockies or two of the Broncos, Nuggets, and Avalanche. MLB teams do not move very often and the NFL is very popular, so the best bet would be that the Nuggets and Avalanche could be on the way out in the near future. Which is a shame, because both of those teams have had a lot of success in Denver. As long as the team is doing well — as it has in the past — it has a chance of sticking around, but if it hits a sustained down period, Avalanche fans should prepare themselves for a possible relocation. The team recently hit its first period where it has missed the playoffs on a regular basis, and already attendance has suffered. Could we see the Avalanche in another city sometime during the next CBA?
- “Metro Population”: Metropolitan Statistical Area population during the 2010 census.
- “Pro teams”: the number of NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and MLS teams in a city.
- “Total personal income(TPI)”: the sum of all money earned by all residents of an area in a given year. Using team revenue data and average ticket prices one can calculate amount of TPI needed to adequately support a team in each north american professional sports league.
- “Available personal income(API)”: simply TPI less the cost it takes to support the city’s pro teams. Minimum income bases were estimated (see linked article) to be $85.4 billion for MLB, $37.6 billion for the NHL, $36.7 billion for the NFL, $34.2 billion for the NBA, and $15.4 billion for MLS. If API is positive, it means that you are good to go for a franchise. If API is negative, then you really need to figure out where you are going to move your team. Only teams in the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA and MLS are counted for this calculation.
- “Win/Loss Record”: win-loss record, which includes winning percentage
- “Playoff Appearances”: the number playoff appearances divided by the number of years in the NHL (only for games taking place at the current location).
- Attendance: home attendance since the 2000-01 season. Capacity excludes standing room only space, and league rank is included in parentheses. Since the Jets have only played one season in Winnipeg, their data only includes numbers for one season.