Bruins’ Ownership Change Could Spark NHL Power Struggle

Two weeks have gone by since it was revealed that the Boston Bruins were going to be changing hands in ownership.

Long-time Bruins owner and NHL figurehead, Jeremy Jacobs, had transferred the NHL franchise over to his six children earlier this year. There hasn’t been an official team release or a change of ownership on the team’s masthead, but for fans around the NHL, the exit of him could come as a major change in power in the league.

Jacobs told Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,“I have given it to my kids. They are paying me some of the proceeds that come out of this. It happened this year. This was done on the basis that the longevity is going to continue in the hands of the Jacobs children, and the next generation will have it.” (from ‘Jeremy Jacobs Gives Control of Bruins to His Six Children’, The Boston Globe -9/9/19)

Jacobs, 80 years old, has been the owner of the Bruins since he purchased the team back in 1975 for $10 million. In that span of 44 years, his ownership group only ushered in one Stanley Cup title, in 2011. During his tenure at the helm of the Original Six franchise, he grew the Bruins from the $10 million all the way to $925 million according to Forbeswhich is the fifth-highest evaluation of any NHL franchise.

Jacobs and his ownership group own the arena, TD Garden, the concession company, Delaware North, and have a 20% stake in the broadcast company, NESN. Despite the lack of hardware in the trophy case, he has been able to cash in quite well on his way to building an impressive business model. In addition to handing the Bruins off to the children, he also transitioned Delaware North in the same manner. Delaware North, a firm that his father founded over 100 years ago, is embedded in arenas all across the NHL.

Who Calls the Shots?

One of the major questions for the Bruins is who is calling the shots. Only two of the six children live in the Boston area with both Charlie Jacobs and Louis Jacobs listed under the Bruins’ masthead.

Boston Bruins
Jeremy Jacobs (left) with Boston Bruins president Cam Neely In 2011 (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

Charlie, who has served as the Chief Executive Officer and the alternate governor for the Bruins, has been a part of the operation for 18 seasons. He has talked with the media and been a face of ownership for many years. Having a face to put to the name gives a sense of accountability and many, including myself, thought that Charlie would be “the guy” when his father decided to step down. Having six equal cooks in the kitchen, especially siblings, can get a bit messy when it revolves around how invested each one of them are in keeping the club long term.

Related: NHLPA Declining CBA Opt Out A Win For Fans

Only time will tell in terms of which of the six will run the day-to-day ownership responsibilities. At this point, one would imagine Charlie continuing to run point on being the face that has to confront the media and answer to the fans. There shouldn’t be any immediate changes from a Bruins fan perspective.

Potential Power Struggle Coming in the NHL

Jeremy Jacobs has been the king of the castle in the NHL since 2007 when he was elected as the Chairman of the NHL Board of Governors. That is a role that he continues to hold, despite shifting the bulk of the ownership stake to his children.

Over the years, the reach of the Jacobs-owned Delaware North has been rather extensive across all levels of hockey. They are the concession vendor of Bridgestone Arena (Nashville Predators), KeyBank Center (Buffalo Sabres), Little Caesars Arena (Detroit Red Wings), Nationwide Arena (Columbus Blue Jackets), and of course, TD Garden (Boston Bruins). In total Delaware North brought in $3.2 billion in revenue in 2018, according to their annual report.

Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins fans pass a giant flag around. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

With all that being said, the power that he has wielded in the NHL has been immense. With his handing off the baton to his children, it opens up for an NHL power struggle. Jacobs staying on the NHL Board of Governors, for the time being, should slow that clamouring to the top. But when the king falls, someone has to step in to fill that space.