Unless your name is John Spano (watch the fantastic ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on him if you don't know his story), you need deep pockets to own an NHL franchise.
Even when the league wasn't as prosperous as it is today, it took more than a few briefcases filled with cash to secure a team. Arguably the most prestigious franchise in the sport, the Montreal Canadiens, were purchased by George Gillett Jr. in the winter of 2001 for what today can be considered a measly $185 million US dollars. Gillett turned quite the profit when he sold the team back to the Molson family for $550 million.
These days professional sports franchises, in general (even the bad ones), are expected to hover around the $1 billion dollar value thanks to the massive revenues coming in from TV deals and increased attendance numbers, among other factors.
What's even more astonishing, though, than the revenues being brought in by NHL franchises is the minute impact it is making on the bottom line of many of the wealthy men on this list. While owning a billion-dollar professional sports franchise is nice, these teams are the equivalent of a middle-aged man's sports car - a toy, more than anything else. While there is no doubt that the money generated by an owner's team is nice "pocket change" to have, the teams are far down the list of properties making serious dollars for the names on the list. When the money is flowing in from all angles - be it from multiple businesses, smart investments, or a big family inheritance - owning a pro team is not about making the big bucks - it's about winning the big trophies.
*All net value figures are taken from Forbes.com, when it's not stated otherwise.
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15 N. Murray Edwards, Calgary Flames - $1.76 Billion
There's a certain amount of irony in the fact that the greatest rivals of the Edmonton Oilers are owned by a Canadian oil tycoon. Edwards is better known in the hockey world as one of the most influential voices in BoG meetings, but in the business world he's known for his savvy diversification decisions, which led him to having major holdings in Canadian Natural Resources, Magellan Aerospace, and Ensign Energy Services. It's looking more and more like the Flames will now establish themselves as one of his bigger money-making entities as the team looks to have turned the corner, thanks in large part to the emergence of young stars Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
14 Vincent Viola, Florida Panthers - $2.2 Billion
While it's almost surprising to see the words "Florida Panthers" and "money" associated together in any way whatsoever, it's clear that their owner is at least capable of making money for himself. Granted, Vincent Viola's team isn't exactly located in a hotbed of hockey rabid fans - still, Viola has managed to do well for himself, specifically through high-frequency trading, which is essentially the art of trading using super computers that give a competitive advantage over someone trading using "only" the human brain. Viola's electronic trading firm, Virtu Financial, is one of the biggest of its kind.
13 Tom Gaglardi, Dallas Stars - $2.24 Billion
While it's unclear who's fully responsible for the large sum of money listed above (as the Gagliardi's run their business within the family), it's clear that Tom has taken the forefront on the business and entertainment front. According to the Dallas Stars website, Gagliardi R. Thomas (Tom) Gaglardi is the president of Northland Properties Corporation, which is "the largest family-owned hospitality company in Canada" (we're starting to a trend in the nationality of these hockey owners, aren't we?).
The fortune is credited online to his father's name, but it would appear that son Tom has fully taken over control of the decision-making - and the cash.
12 T11. Ed Snider, Philadelphia Flyers - $2.5 Billion
We're putting Ed Snider behind our next entry on the list because Snider's fortune is an "estimated" $2.5 billion, as opposed to being a fairly established number reported by Forbes. Nonetheless, we know well enough by now that Snider is rolling in cash, and while we all know him best for his interesting ownership methods at the helm of the Philadelphia Flyers, the bulk of his fortune comes from several ventures through Comcast and eventually Comcast Spectator. At one time or another, Snider also held a stake in the Philadelphia Eagles and 76ers through Comcast Spectator, effectively cementing his status as one of Philly's off-ice/off-field/off-court sporting legends.
11 T11. Henry Samueli, Anaheim Ducks - $2.5 Billion
If you dug a bit further into his and his family's past, you just might be able to make a short film on the life of the Samueli's and the rise to financial greatness of young Henry (who is in fact no longer that young).
Samueli's parents were holocaust survivors who, like countless others, ran towards a better life for future generations. Samueli took full advantage of that opportunity and has turned his life's work into a $2.5 billion dollar fortune, thanks in large part to his semiconductor design firm, Broadcom, which he's grown from a garage-based business to one of the broadband communications and wireless firms in the world.
10 Ron Burkle, Pittsburgh Penguins - $2.6 Billion
Ron Burkle has managed to build himself a nice little chunk of change with a more diversified business portfolio. Burkle has made plenty as the head of the private equity firm Yucaipa Companies, which bought and sold off supermarket chains for big profits, but he didn't corner himself to the food trade, as he's also made hefty investments on the technology side, notably with Airbnb (online lodging rentals) and Foursquare (location check-in app). Of course, it helps that his hockey team is built on two future Hall of Famers in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, not to mention the Pittsburgh legend he co-owns the team with - Mario Lemieux.
9 Joshua Harris, New Jersey Devils - $2.7 Billion
Joshua Harris was no stranger to the professional sports world when he bought the Devils in 2013 - he's also the owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, who've been the worst team in the NBA for the past couple of seasons. With that in mind, Harris might have some ideas and experience in the art of sparking interest in a team that, frankly, has never been the most interesting, even when the Devils were one of the best teams in the NHL.
The majority of Harris' fortune comes from the money he's made from the private equity firm he co-founded in the 1990s, Apollo Global Management, which deals in alternative asset management and capital investing.
8 Francesco Aquilini, Vancouver Canucks - $2.8 Billion
A few years ago, the Aquilini fortune was supposedly hovering around $5 billion. While they still make the list, the drop is quite significant - then again, $2.8 billion isn't a bad pile of money to be in control of. Francesco Aquilini is the "face" of the Aquilini Group, a diversified investment group that has dipped into real estate, income properties, agriculture, energy and countless others. The Canucks are a feather in the cap, a strong Canadian franchise that is hoping to return to the top of the tough Western Conference after a few middling years.
7 Daryl Katz, Edmonton Oilers - $3.4 Billion
Perhaps the most infamous of the seven Canadian owners, Katz has had his share of ups and downs throughout his tenure as the boss in Oil Town. While Katz might have hit the jackpot more recently with the team winning the draft lottery (which allowed them to draft Connor McDavid), Katz's real fortune comes from his success in the pharmacy business - specifically through his company, the Katz Group. While Katz has certainly irked Oilers fans over the years, he's turning it around by his involvement in the team's new arena and the revamping of the city's downtown core.
6 Jeremy Jacobs, Boston Bruins - $3.6 Billion
Everyone likes to eat at sporting events and Jeremy Jacobs has turned that simple nugget of information into a gold-mine, as he's currently estimated to have a net worth of well over three billion. Jacobs' has helped return the Bruins to their former glory, but his money pile was grown and fostered through his stake in Delaware North, a massive player in the sports concession world. The hundred-year-old business might be as old as Jacobs itself, but it's still churning out money the way the Bruins have been churning out wins.
5 Terry Pegula, Buffalo Sabres - $3.8 Billion
In a relatively short amount of time, Terry Pegula has established himself not only as one of the most likable owners in all of professional sport, but also as the hero of the small-town market that is Buffalo. Pegula made his fortune in the oil and natural gas industry, but in his later years has seemingly turned his focus to his two sporting loves - the Bills and the Sabres. Things are looking up for both teams as of late and it's no coincidence that the uptick has coincided with the arrival of Pegula - or, more specifically, his money.
4 Mike Ilitch, Detroit Red Wings - $5 Billion
The Ilitch family can arguably be labelled as the Rooney family of the NHL - they've been around forever, are highly-respected and have managed to keep a "family" image despite being incredibly rich. The owners of the Little Caesars pizza empire are also the proud owners of multiple Stanley Cup rings and are an ingrained part of the Detroit community as a whole - not just on the sporting side.
3 Stanley Kroenke, Colorado Avalanche - $6.3 Billion
Stan Kroenke is the "true" sports owner of the bunch, with a stake in the St. Louis Rams (NFL), Arsenal (EPL), Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Rapids (MLS) and the Avalanche. Kroenke has been making headlines lately thanks to his clear attempts to move the Rams to Los Angeles.
While some might say being married to the heir to Wal-Mart meant enough money to go around, Kroenke has built his own fortune through his real estate holdings.
2 Hasso Plattner, San Jose Sharks - $9.2 Billion
A software giant, Plattner was one of the co-founders of SAP (Systems, Applications, Products) in 1972. The company has since grown into one of the world's B2B leaders and Plattner has reaped the rewards of his move from IBM to founding SAP, which has him estimated at over $9 billion today. Plattner was an investor in San Jose Sports & Entertainment Enterprises until he bought out the other partners in 2013, and now is the big boss in the Shark Tank.
1 Philip F. Anschutz, Los Angeles Kings - $12.7 Billion
Philip F. Anschutz take the top spot on the list by several billions and he's made his money in a variety of different ways, be it from oilfields, movie-making, transportation, telecom or income properties (specifically from arenas). Anschutz also has a stake in the Los Angeles Lakers, but it's the Kings that have surprisingly surpassed the legendary basketball franchise as the crown jewel of Anschutz's sports entities. With two Cups since 2012, the Kings have taken over as Los Angeles royalty.
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