NHL players are extremely well known to fans. Even many coaches and general managers are recognized by those who watch the game. But what about the owners? The people who finance your favourite team aren’t as easily recognizable despite having huge impacts on the team and the league as a whole.
To better understand the owners of the 32 NHL organizations, this piece will look at their business ventures outside of the hockey clubs, how they came to acquire the teams and how the teams have performed under their leadership.
Anaheim Ducks: Henry Samueli
Operating Entity: Anaheim Ducks Hockey Club LLC
Henry Samueli is the co-founder of Broadcom Corporation, where he sits as the chairman of the Board. Broadcom is a semiconductor company that made products for the wireless and broadband communication industry. As a professor at UCLA, he and a student began this company in 1995. By 2012, the revenue was $8.01 billion.
Samueli is also a well-known philanthropist. He and his family have donated over $500 million to various causes, including $100 million to UCLA to expand their engineering school.
Ducks Under Ownership
In 2003, Samueli purchased the management contract for Arrowhead Pond to oversee all operations of the arena. In 2005, he purchased the team from the Walt Disney Company for $75 million. Just two years later, the Anaheim Ducks became the first California team to win a Stanley Cup. They have only missed the playoffs three times during his time as the owner.
Since then, Samueli has also purchased the AHL affiliate, relocating and renaming them to the San Diego Gulls. Forbes placed the Ducks’ value at $460 million (2020).
Arizona Coyotes: Alex Meruelo
Operating Entity: IceArizona Acquisition Co., LLC
Alex Meruelo is a Cuban-American billionaire, who got his start by investing in real estate at a young age. He sold property to Walmart in his early 20s and never slowed down. He now owns the Meruelo Group, a construction and real estate development firm, Meruelo media, which consists of five radio stations and a television station, as well as Fuji Food, two casinos and a resort.
The NHL isn’t Meruelo’s first attempt to get into sports ownership. In 2011, he made a bid to purchase the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Atlanta Hawks but was turned down. The billionaire is known for buying failing businesses and turning them around.
Coyotes Under Ownership
With Meruelo’s purchase of the Arizona Coyotes just becoming official in June 2019, it’s still too early to say how the team will fair under his ownership. The amount of the sale has yet to come out, but Mike Ozanian of Forbes’ suggests it will be around $300 million. Forbes valued the organization at $285 million (2020). An interesting fact though, is that the new owner is the first Latino owner in league’s history.
Boston Bruins: Jeremy Jacobs
Operating Entity: Boston Professional Hockey Association, Inc
Jeremy Jacobs owns and operates Delaware North, a global hospitality and food service business that works in the lodging, sporting, airport, gaming and entertainment industries. The business was started by his father in 1915 as a theatre concession company. As of 2018, the organization had an annual revenue of $3.2 billion.
Jacobs also owns an interest in the New England Sports Network (NESN), along with Boston Red Sox owner John Henry. He has had numerous philanthropic ventures through the years, including his family founding the Boston Bruins Foundation which has raised over $28 million.
Bruins Under Ownership
Jacobs is the second-most tenured owner in the NHL. Purchasing the team with his own money in 1975 for roughly $10 million, he has seen much success. The Bruins have only missed the playoffs six times under this ownership, winning the Stanley Cup in 2011. The team is worth $1 billion (2020).
The team’s owner is also the elected chairman of the NHL’s Board of Governors. In 2017, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Builders category. He was also awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy in 2015 by USA Hockey for contributions to hockey in the United States.
Buffalo Sabres: Terry Pegula
Operating Entities: Pegula Sports and Entertainment & Hockey Western New York, LLC
Buffalo Sabres’ owner Terry Pegula is a multi-billionaire who holds interests in natural gas development, real estate, entertainment and, of course, professional sports. He got his start by founding East Resources, a natural gas drilling company, with $7,500. He has sold two sections of the company off, collecting $6.45 billion in the sales.
Pegula owns a great deal of real estate in Buffalo, including the Webster Block which won the developing rights to in 2012. He also owns a share of the independent country music label Black River Entertainment, which has artists such as Kelsea Ballerini and Kellie Pickler.
In 2014, he purchased the National Football League’s( NFL) Buffalo Bills and in 2017, he purchased the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts, although he gave up control of the team in 2019 after the CWHL folded.
Sabres Under Ownership
In 2011, Pegula purchased the Sabres, along with the Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League (NLL), for $189 million. A few months later, Pegula purchased the team’s AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans. Upon his purchases, he immediately started investing money in the team and famously said, “Starting today, the Buffalo Sabres’ reason for existence will be to win a Stanley Cup.”
While the Sabres have yet to win a Stanley Cup, or even make the playoffs since the 2010-11 season, the team is worth $385 million (2020). With young core pieces like Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin, Pegula’s Cup may not be that far off.
Calgary Flames: N. Murray Edwards
Operating Entity: Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation
N. Murray Edwards is owner and chairman of Edco Financial Holdings Ltd., a merchant banker. He is also the leading investor, managing director and chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Limited and Ensign Energy Services Inc., two of Canada’s biggest oil companies.
Edwards owns Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, which includes six separate resorts on Canada’s west coast. He’s also the chairman of the board for Magellan Aerospace, a company that manufactures and repairs aerospace systems and components.
Flames Under Ownership
The Canadian billionaire is the director and co-owner of Calgary Sports and Entertainment (CSEC). He owns the team along with Alvin Libin, Allan Markin, and Jeffrey McCaig. In 2012, CSEC replaced the Calgary Flames Limited Partnership which relocated the team to Alberta in 1980.
In that time, the Flames have won one Stanley Cup, in the 1988-89 season. They’ve reached the Final two other times with the most recent coming in 2003-04 when they lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Calgary Sports and Entertainment also owns the AHL’s Stockton Heat, the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Calgary Hitmen, the Canadian Football League’s (CFL) Calgary Stampede and the NLL’s Calgary Roughnecks. The Flames are worth $480 million (2020).
Carolina Hurricanes: Tom Dundon
Operating Entities: Gale Force Sports And Entertainment, LLC & Carolina Hurricanes Hockey Club
One of the newest owners in the NHL, Tom Dundon is the chairman and managing partner of Dundon Capital Partners, a company he founded. Before that, he founded Santander Consumer USA, a consumer finance company.
Dundon is well-known for his other sports venture, the Alliance of American Football (AAF). In Feb. 2019, Dundon invested a $250 million “line of credit” into the league and was named chairman. The league folded before completing its inaugural season, resulting in ongoing legal battles between Dundon and the league. Dundon gave $70 million to the league despite being told they would only need $55 million in the first season.
Hurricanes Under Ownership
In Jan. 2018, Dundon purchased the Carolina Hurricanes and operating control of PNC Arena for $420 million, exactly what it was valued by Forbes. Dundon owns 61 percent of the team, while outgoing owner Peter Karmanos still holds the remainder. There’s an option for Dundon to buy the rest within three years. Forbes valued the team at $440 million in 2020.
The Hurricanes were the talk of the NHL for Dundon’s first full season as the owner, from being a “bunch of jerks” for their celebrations after home wins to their shocking playoff run reaching the Eastern Conference Final. It’s still early in Dundon’s ownership but it’s looking up for the Hurricanes.
Chicago Blackhawks: William “Rocky” Wirtz
Operating Entity: Chicago Blackhawk Hockey Team, Inc.
William Rockwell Wirtz, more commonly known as “Rocky” Wirtz, is the president of the Wirtz Corporation. The Corporation is a holding company that manages businesses of all sorts. This includes commercial and residential real estate companies, banking, a wine and spirits distributor, and an insurance company, among other things.
Wirtz took over the company and the hockey team from his father after he passed away in 2007. Prior to this, Rocky managed Judge & Dolph, Ltd., the liquor distributor.
Blackhawks Under Ownership
The Wirtz family is the longest-tenured NHL ownership in the league. The family has owned the Chicago Blackhawks since 1954, with the younger Wirtz taking over in 2007 following his father’s passing.
The team has done very well in this time, winning three Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015. The Blackhawks have been one of the best team’s in the league over his tenure, although they missed the playoffs in 2017-18 and 2018-19 after making it every season since 2007-08.
Forbes valued the team at just over $1 billion in 2020.
Colorado Avalanche: Kroenke Family
Operating Entities: Kroenke Sports & Entertainment & Colorado Avalanche, LLC
E. Stanley Kroenke is a businessman and owner of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment which operates the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, English Premier League football club Arsenal, the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth of the NLL and eSports team the Los Angeles Gladiators in the Overwatch League.
Kroenke is married to Ann Walton Kroenke, the heiress to Walmart. On paper, she is the owner of the Avalanche and the Nuggets due to Stanley not being able to own a professional sports team in a competing market to the NFL. The team is now in a family trust with their son Josh as the president.
The family owns numerous shopping centres and apartment buildings, the majority of which are located next to Walmart locations.
Avalanche Under Ownership
Since the Kroenkes purchased the team in 2000, they have one Stanley Cup to their name, winning back in 2001. They’ve also won four division titles and a Presidents’ Trophy over that time.
Despite making the playoffs their first 10 seasons in Colorado, the Avalanche have had an up and down stretch since, although on the back of Nathan MacKinnon that may change in the near future.
Forbes valued the team at $465 million in 2020.
Columbus Blue Jackets: John P. McConnell
Operating Entities: Colhoc Limited Partnership & The Columbus Blue Jackets Hockey Club
John P. McConnell is the CEO of Worthington Industries, a global diversified metals manufacturing company. Despite McConnell’s father founding the company, he worked his way up the company, spending time as a labourer, sales representative, personnel director and has administered a large number of company policies. He was named the vice chairman of the board of directors in 1992, becoming CEO in 1993.
McConnell is also very active in the community, including sitting on the board for OhioHealth. He has also served on the board of directors for Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the YMCA and the Columbus Zoological Association.
Blue Jackets Under Ownership
Upon his father’s death in 2008, McConnell took over ownership of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Since then they have made the playoffs four times, winning their first-ever series in the 2019 NHL Playoffs. They have yet to win a division title. The team is worth $310 million (2020).
Dallas Stars: Tom Gaglardi
Operating Entity: Dallas Stars LP
R. Thomas Gaglardi is a Canadian businessman and president of Northland Properties Corporation. Northland owns and operates hotels and restaurants in Canada. He’s also chairman and CEO of Sandman Hotels, Inns and Suites and Moxie’s Bar and Grill.
The Dallas Stars were not Gaglardi’s first attempt to purchase an NHL team. In 2004, he and business partner Ryan Beedie made a bid to buy the Vancouver Canucks, losing out to current owner Francois Aquilini. Then, in 2010, he proposed purchasing the Atlanta Thrashers and moving them to Hamilton, Ontario. Again, he lost out on the team, which moved to Winnipeg under the ownership of True North Sports & Entertainment.
Gaglardi also owns the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers.
Stars Under Ownership
Finally, in 2011, Gaglardi got his NHL team in the Stars. After going through bankruptcy proceedings with the previous owners, Hicks Sports Group, he bought the team for $240 million. The team is worth $575 million (2020). It was a rough start for Gaglardi and the Stars, making the playoffs only three times in the first eight seasons.
Detroit Red Wings: Ilitch Holdings
Operating Entities: Ilitch Holdings Inc., Olympia Entertainment & Detroit Red Wings, Inc.
Christopher Ilitch is the president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, a company founded by his father Mike in 1999 to oversee the family’s many business ventures. On top of the Detroit Red Wings, the family owns the MLB’s Detroit Tigers, Champion Foods, Olympia Entertainment, Olympia Development, Uptown Entertainment, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, and Little Caesars.
Prior to joining the family business, Ilitch worked for IBM and Little Caesars. Ilitch’s father passed away in 2017, leaving the billion-dollar company to Christopher.
Red Wings Under Ownership
The Red Wings under the Ilitch family has been one of the most successful sports team in any of the big four leagues. He purchased the team in 1982 for $8 million. The team had 25-straight seasons making the playoffs, including four Stanley Cups. The team is worth $775 million (2020).
Christopher took on the team at the end of the 25-year playoff run and the Red Wings missed the playoffs in his first two full seasons as owner. The team is looking to bounce back quickly though, bringing back former captain and star Steve Yzerman as the team’s general manager in April of 2019.
Edmonton Oilers: Daryl Katz
Operating Entities: Rexall Sports Corporation & Oilers Entertainment Group
Daryl Katz is the founder and chairman of Katz Group of Companies, one of the largest privately-owned companies in Canada. The organization has pharmacy, sports and entertainment, and real estate development businesses.
Katz is also a generous philanthropist. In 2006, he donated $7 million to the University of Alberta Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Faculty of Law, which was then matched by the province. In 2009, he made an even larger donation of $20 million to Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. It’s reported that he and his wife, Renee Gouin, donated around $50 million between 2005 and 2010.
The Canadian businessman also owns the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings and the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors.
Oilers Under Ownership
Katz really wanted the Edmonton Oilers. In 2007, he made bids of $145 million, $185 million, and $188 million, all of which were turned down. Then, in Jan. 2008, he made an offer of $200 million, which was accepted. The organization is worth $550 million (2020).
The Oilers have made the playoffs once in Katz tenure, despite having four first-overall picks in that time. The club now has Connor McDavid, who they hope can lead them into a new era.
Florida Panthers: Vincent Viola
Operating Entities: Sunrise Sports and Entertainment & Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd
Vincent Viola is an American businessman and U.S. Army veteran. After attending the United States Military Academy, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He worked his way up to the rank of major in the 101st Airborne.
After his military time, Viola became a trader in the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). Viola has founded numerous successful proprietary trading and clearing firms and as such is one of the nation’s most successful commodities dealers. Some of the firms and companies include Pioneer Futures, The Independent Bank Group, EWT, LLC, Madison Tyler, LLC, and Virtu Financial.
Panthers Under Ownership
Viola purchased the Florida Panthers in 2013 for $250 million. Since then, the team has only made the playoffs once. However, they have a solid core in place with Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov so the success may be coming to the team soon. The Panthers are worth $295 million (2020), the second-lowest valuation in the league.
Los Angeles Kings: Philip Anschutz & Edward P. Roski
Operating Entities: Anschutz Entertainment Group & The Los Angeles Kings Hockey Club LP
Philip Anschutz is an American billionaire with toes dipped in just about everything. He bought out his father’s drilling company, Circle A Drilling, in 1961. From the profits of the company, he has investments in stocks, railroads, real estate and much more. He is a co-founder of MLS and five separate teams in the league. He owns stakes in the Los Angeles Kings, the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, the Staples Centre, the O2 Arena, and through AEG Live he owns the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Anschutz co-owns the Kings and Lakers with Edward P. Roski. Roski also owns the Silverton Las Vegas casino. He was in the U.S. Marine Corps and was deployed in Vietnam as a part of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. He was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.
Kings Under Ownership
Anschutz and Roski purchased the Kings in 1995 for $113.25 million. Under their ownership, the organization won it’s first two Stanley Cups in 2011-12 and 2013-14. They have been a very up and down team over their tenure, going back and forth between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. The club is worth $825 million (2020).
Minnesota Wild: Craig Leipold
Operating Entities: Minnesota Sports and Entertainment & Minnesota Wild Hockey Club, LP
Craig Leipold is the founder of Ameritel, a business-to-business marketing firm. In the past, he’s owned the Rainfair Company, the Grand Ole Opry and was a director of Gaylord Entertainment Company.
Leipold was also the previous owner of the Nashville Predators. He purchased the expansion team in 1997 for $80 million before selling the team for $193 million in 2007.
Wild Under Ownership
After selling the Predators, Leipold didn’t wait long to get back into the NHL. A month after the Nashville sale was finalized, reports came out that he was going to buy the Minnesota Wild. The club is worth $500 million (2020).
Under Leipold, the Wild have only won two playoff series – not in the same season. They have won one division title in their franchise history, coming just as Leipold took over in the 2007-08 season. It’s hasn’t been a good stretch thus far for the Wild.
Leipold also owns the AHL’s Iowa Wild and manages the Xcel Energy Center.
Montreal Canadiens: Molson Family/Geoff Molson
Operating Entity: Club de hockey Canadien, Inc
Geoff Molson has spent time with numerous companies. He started as a student, working as a sales and marketing representative at Molson Brewery. He worked for Coca-Cola as a global media services assistant and was then a senior consultant for CSC Consulting. Then, he headed back to his families company as the vice president of marketing. In 2009, he was named the chairman of the Board of Directors and general partner.
Molson is also known for his philanthropic ventures. He’s a member of the Plus Mieux Guérir (Sainte-Justine) and the Campus Montreal (HEC, Polytechnique, Université de Montréal) fundraising committees. He also sits on the board of the Molson family foundation, which supports initiatives all over Canada, as well as the St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation, the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation, the Molson Coors Donations Fund and the Molson Coors Foundation.
Canadiens Under Ownership
Molson purchased the Montreal Canadiens in 2009 from George N. Gillett Jr. for $575 million. Interestingly enough, Gillett Jr. purchased the team from the Molson Brewery in 2001. Molson now owns the Canadiens with his two brothers, Andrew and Justin, and a group of companies including BCE/Bell, the Woodbridge Company Limited, the QFL Solidarity Fund, The National Bank Financial Group, Michael Andlauer and Luc Bertrand.
Related – Canadiens History: The Very Beginning
Under Molson, the team’s best season came in 2013-14 with a loss in the Eastern Conference Final to the New York Rangers. They’ve won the division three times, but haven’t won the conference as of yet.
The Canadiens’ franchise was valued at $1.34 billion in 2020.
Nashville Predators: Thomas Cigarran
Operating Entity: Predators Holdings LLC
Thomas Cigarran is the co-founder, former chairman, president and CEO and Director of Healthways, Inc. He’s also a co-founder and former chairman, president and CEO and current Director of AmSurg Corporation, the nation’s largest outpatient surgery center company.
While his business side has been in the healthcare industry, he is also very involved in Nashville’s education. He’s been the chairman of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and was a founder and chairman of the Operating Board of Alignment Nashville, an organization that helps other organization plan events for public education.
Cigarran also led the Haiti Education Mission of the Cathedral of the Incarnation, chaired the advisory board of Vanderbilt’s Owen School’s Healthcare MBA Program, served on the boards of the Harpeth Hall School, Alive Hospice and the Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee and served as chair of the Nashville Health Care Council.
Predators Under Ownership
Cigarran purchased the club in 2007 from now-Wild owner Craig Leipold. During his tenure, the ownership team has made many headlines, from purchasing shares of the team from a jailed investor to co-owners suing each other. Through the turmoil, the team is still worth $435 million (2020).
With Cigarran at the helm, the Predators have won two division titles, a Presidents’ Trophy in 2017-18 and reached the Stanley Cup Final once, although they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
New Jersey Devils: Joshua Harris
Operating Entity: New Jersey Devils LLC
New Jersey Devils’ owner Joshua Harris is an American billionaire who co-founded Apollo Global Management in 1990, one of the world’s largest alternative investment firms. He still remains with the company as one of three managing partners.
Harris is also the managing partner in a group that owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. The group purchased the team in 2011 for $280 million. He also owns an 18 percent stake in Crystal Palace of the English Premier League. The businessman has expressed interest in owning an NFL team as well, by expanding the league to London, England.
Devils Under Ownership
Harris purchased the Devils in 2013, as well as the rights to operate their arena, the Prudential Center. He bought the team for a reported $320 million, although commissioner Gary Bettman indicated that the number isn’t correct. The team is worth $530 million (2020).
The Devils haven’t had a stellar run since Harris took over the team, despite reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2011-12. They followed that playoff run with five straight seasons missing the playoffs. At the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the team selected the highly-touted Jack Hughes, so better results may be on the horizon.
New York Islanders: Jon Ledecky & Scott D. Malkin
Operating Entity: New York Islanders Hockey Club, LP
Jon Ledecky started his career out in journalism while studying business administration at Harvard University. He went on to found U.S. Office Supplies in 1994, leaving the company four years later with an estimated $400 million. Ledecky has owned or has tried to own numerous sports teams, including making bids for the MLB’s Cinncinati Reds, New York Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, and Washington Nationals as well as the NHL’s Canadiens. He did own the Washington Capitals with Ted Leonsis for a short time, eventually selling his shares to Leonsis.
Scott Malkin is the founder of Value Retail, which creates luxury retail destinations in coveted locations. The company does over a billion in sales annually. Ledecky and Malkin were roommates at Harvard.
Islanders Under Ownership
The two owners purchased a minority stake in the New York Islanders in 2014 from longtime owner Charles Wang, before buying the majority shares in 2016. Forbes reported that the sale was for $485 million. Ledecky and Malkin are one of few owners on this list to have the valuation lower than what was spent, as the club is worth $520 million (2020).
Related: Meet the Islanders New Owners
In the first five years of their ownership, the Islanders made the playoffs three times, twice reaching the second round. While better than many teams, the return on investment has not yet been there for the owners.
New York Rangers: James L. Dolan
Operating Entity: The Madison Square Garden Company & New York Rangers Hockey Club
New York Rangers owner James Dolan is the executive chairman and CEO of The Madison Square Garden Company. He oversees the Rangers, the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack the NBA’s New York Knicks, the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) New York Liberty, and networks MSG Network and MSG Plus.
Previously, Dolan served as the CEO of Cablevision from 1995 to 2016 when the company was sold. He was also the CEO of Rainbow Media Holdings, which is now known as AMC Networks. He also helped found and is on the board of The Lustgarten Foundation, the largest private supporter of pancreatic cancer research in the United States.
Rangers Under Ownership
Through the Madison Square Garden Company, Dolan’s family owns the Rangers. In 1994, Cablevision acquired 50 percent of the MSG properties, buying the remaining shares three years later. The team is the most valuable team in the NHL, worth $1.65 billion (2020).
From 1997, when the Dolan family fully owned the Rangers, the team has two division titles, one Presidents’ Trophy and one Stanley Cup Final appearance. The team has had its share of ups and downs, going through long stretches of both. But with it’s strong, young players, led by Kappo Kakko, the team looks to be on the rise.
Ottawa Senators: Eugene Melnyk
Operating Entities: Capital Sports Properties & Ottawa Senators Hockey Club Limited Partnership
Eugene Melnyk is a Canadian businessman who founded Biovail Corporation, a specialty pharmaceutical company and served as the company’s CEO and chairman. Melnyk left the company in 2007 after news that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was investigating him. In 2008, they sued him for accounting fraud, to which Biovail settled for $10 million. Melnyk was banned from senior roles at public companies in Canada for five years and fined $565,000 by the Ontario Securities Commission and settled with the SEC for $150,000 on top of the $1 million previously paid.
Melnyk has been involved with numerous philanthropic ventures, highlighted by being a founding partner for Rogers’ House, a pediatric palliative care facility and donating $5 million to St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto.
Senators Under Ownership
Melnyk purchased the Ottawa Senators in 2003, as well as the arena they play in, then called the Corel Centre. He purchased the team for roughly $150 million after the team had filed for bankruptcy protection. The team is worth $430 million (2020).
Since purchasing the team, the Senators have one division title and one Presidents’ Trophy, on top of reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2006-07. Melnyk has drawn the anger of fans over and over again and is known for being “cheap” when it comes to the hockey club, resulting in numerous stars leaving Ottawa.
Philadelphia Flyers: Brian L. Roberts
Operating Entity: Comcast Spectacor & Philadelphia Flyers, LP
Brian Roberts is the CEO and chairman of the Comcast Corporation, an American cable company. His father founded the company in 1969 and as of Mar. 2019, the company earns annual revenue of $94.5 billion. He is also the chairman of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
Roberts is also known as a world-class squash player. In 2005, he earned a gold medal for Team USA at the Maccabiah Games. He also won silver medals in 1981, 1985 and 1997 at the same event.
Flyers Under Ownership
Ed Snider brought the Flyers to Philadelphia in 1967, teaming up with Comcast in 1996. Upon Snider’s death in 2016, Comcast bought the remaining shares of the team for an undisclosed amount. The team is worth $800 million (2020).
With Comcast as a partner since ’96, the Flyers have three division titles and two Conference Championships, sending them to the Stanley Cup Final twice. The Flyers have consistently been near the top of the NHL through Roberts’ and Comcast’s ownership, just recently going through some rough seasons of not making the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Ronald Burkle & Mario Lemieux
Operating Entity: Lemieux Group LP
Mario Lemieux, of course, is one of the greatest players to ever play in the NHL. In 915 games, the Pittsburgh Penguins star collected 690 goals, 1,033 assists and 1,723 points. He was a 10-time All-Star, two-time Stanley Cup champion, six-time Art Ross Trophy winner, four-time Ted Lindsay Award winner, three-time Hart Memorial winner, and added a Calder Trophy, Bill Masterton Trophy and a Lester Patrick Trophy. In 1997 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Ronald Burkle is an American billionaire and the co-founder and managing partner of The Yucaipa Companies, LLC. This organization is a private equity and venture capital firm that specializes in underperforming U.S. companies in the distribution, logistics, food, retail, consumer and light industrial sectors. Over his time, he’s owned stakes and investments in A&P, Whole Foods, Golden State Foods, SeatGeek, SoundCloud, Airbnb, Three Lions Entertainment, among many others. He’s also the lead investor trying to bring an MLS team to Sacramento.
Penguins Under Ownership
The story of Lemieux’s transition from a player to an owner may just be one of the best stories in NHL history. With the team declaring bankruptcy in 1998, owing over $90 million to creditors including $32.5 million to Lemieux himself for deferred salaries, he converted his owed money into equity–enough to give him controlling interest in the team. He turned the team around, paying off all creditors by 2005. The team is worth $650 million (2020).
The Penguins have been successful on the ice as well. Under Lemieux and Burkle, the team has won three Stanley Cups, in 2009, 2016 and 2017, and become a perennial contender. Having cornerstone players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin definitely helped that.
San Jose Sharks: Hasso Plattner
Operating Entity: Sharks Sports and Entertainment; San Jose Sports & Entertainment Enterprises & San Jose Sharks, LLC
German-born Hasso Plattner is a billionaire and the co-founder of SAP SE company, sitting as chairman of the supervisory committee. SAP SE is a software company that Plattner and four other engineers from IBM created in 1972.
Plattner also runs the Hasso Plattner Institute which focuses on research and teaching in IT systems engineering, offering degree programs and free online courses. He’s also a signee of the Giving Pledge, supporting HIV/AIDS research and promoting healthcare and health education in South Africa.
Sharks Under Ownership
The owner first invested in the San Jose Sharks in 2002, becoming the majority owner in 2010 and fully buying out the other investors in 2013. The team is worth $515 million (2020).
Under Plattner, the Sharks have always been in the playoff hunt but just can’t make it over the hump. Since he first invested, the team has made the playoffs all but two seasons. In that time they’ve collected five division titles, one Presidents’ Trophy and have reached the Stanley Cup Final once.
Seattle: David Bonderman & Jerry Bruckheimer
Operating Entity: Seattle Hockey Partners
David Bonderman is an American billionaire and the co-founder and chairman of TPG Capital, one of the largest investment firms in the world. He’s also been a director of Continental Airlines, Ducati Motor Holding, and many other companies. Bonderman is on the board of The Wilderness Society, the World Wide Fund for Nature, among others, and was previously on the board of Burger King, Uber, numerous banks and other companies.
Jerry Bruckheimer is a well-known film and television producer. His television shows include CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, Without a Trace and The Amazing Race. His movies get even better, working on films like Flashdance, Top Gun, The Rock, Con Air, Armageddon, Enemy of the State, Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor, and the Beverly Hills Cop, Bad Boys, Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure franchises.
Related: NHL Approves Seattle Expansion Team
Seattle Under Ownership
Bonderman and Bruckheimer led an application submitted in early 2018 to bring an NHL team to Seattle. In Dec. 2018, the NHL Board of Governors approved the bid and the team will start playing in 2021-22.
St. Louis Blues: Tom Stillman
Operating Entity: SLB Acquisition Holdings LLC & St. Louis Blues Hockey Club, L.P.
St. Louis Blues owner Tom Stillman is a former lawyer who worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce where he was Chief Counsel for Export Administration. Prior to that, he worked at the New York law firm Dewey, Ballantine, Bushby, Palmer & Wood.
Stillman is currently the chairman and CEO of Summit Distributing, a St. Louis-based beer distributor. He’s also on the boards of Blues for Kids, Commerce Bank, St. Louis Region, the St. Louis Sports Commission, and the Logos School.
Blues Under Ownership
Stillman became a minority owner in the Blues in 2007. From then until June 2019, his all-local ownership group slowly began taking over more and more of the team, until he reached 100 percent. He became the majority owner in 2012. The team is worth $510 million (2020).
Since he became the majority owner, have made the playoffs in all but one season, collecting one division title and winning the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 2019.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Jeffrey Vinik
Operating Entity: Lightning Hockey LP
Jeffrey Vinik is known for his hedge fund, Vinik Asset Management, which he started after leaving the Fidelity Mutual Fund in 1996. By 2000, the hedge fund returned it’s investors $4.2 billion and by the time he closed the fund in 2013, he and his partners distributed $9 million.
He and his wife have donated $6.25 million to Duke University’s engineering school, $10 million to create a challenge fund to endow associate and full professorships dedicated to addressing complex societal challenges and $1.5 million to build a new Jewish Community Center in South Tampa.
Lightning Under Ownership
Vinik purchased the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010 for $170 million. Worth $470 million (2020), Vinik has been putting money into the organization and the community. He’s put $60 million into the publicly-owned AMALIE Arena and $30 million into Tampa Bay charities.
Under his ownership, the Lightning have two division titles and a Presidents’ trophy. They reached the Final in 2014-15, losing to the Blackhawks in six games.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Larry Tanenbaum
Operating Entity: Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Ltd. & Kilmer Sports, Inc.
Larry Tanenbaum is a Canadian businessman who is the chairman and CEO of the Kilmer Group. The company focuses on investments in three sectors: private equity, infrastructure and real estate, and sports and media. He and the company have investments in everything from Coca-Cola to restaurants, numerous construction companies to high-profile real estate, sports teams to television stations.
As a part of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, Tanenbaum also owns the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC of the MLS, the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, and Scotiabank Arena. He is very involved with all of these leagues, is on the board of the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Toronto 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Maple Leafs Under Ownership
The Toronto Maple Leafs have a large ownership group, with BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications owning the majority. Tanenbaum actually only owns 25 percent of the team, but since he’s the chairman of MLSE, he’s the face of the ownership.
Tanenbaum purchased his first portion of shares in 1996 for $21 million, buying more in 2008 for $100 million and when BCE and Rogers purchased the majority shares in 2011 for $1.32 billion, his share was bumped up to 25 percent to secure his approval of the sale. The Maple Leafs are the second-most valuable team in the league at $1.5 billion (2020).
Since Tanenbaum came into the fold in 1996, the Maple Leafs have just one division title. They have yet to win a Conference title or make the Stanley Cup Final. They even had a stretch of 11 seasons where they missed the playoffs 10 times. With superstar Auston Matthews leading the team now, they hope times will be changing soon.
Vancouver Canucks: Francesco Aquilini
Operating Entity: Canucks Sports & Entertainment
Francesco Aquilini is a Canadian businessman and is a managing director at the company his father founded, Aquilini Investment Group. On top of the Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena, the Group oversees and has investments in real estate, energy, development, restaurants, agriculture, hotels and more.
Through both the Canucks and the Aquilini Investment Group, Aquilini is known for his philanthropic work as well. He gives significant support to the BC Children’s Hospital, the Canucks for Kids Fund, Canucks Autism Network, and the Boys Club Network. He is also involved in wildlife preservation which led to him purchasing the Codd Wetlands in order to preserve them.
Under Canucks Sports & Entertainment, Aquilini also owns the AHL’s Utica Comets, the NLL’s Vancouver Warriors and eSports team Vancouver Titans of the Overwatch League.
Canucks Under Ownership
In 2004, Aquilini purchased 50 percent of the Canucks, purchasing the remaining shares two years later. The deal wasn’t an easy venture to start, as Aquilini was sued by now-Stars owner Gaglardi and Ryan Beedie, claiming that the three of them were supposed to buy the team together. The court ruled in favour of Aquilini. The estimated total that Aquilini paid is $250 million, and the hockey club is worth $725 million (2020).
Under Aquilini, since his initial investment, the Canucks have done well, winning six division titles, two Presidents’ Trophies and making one trip to the Stanley Cup Final. They had a rough stretch from 2013-14 to 2018-19, but have young players in the fold like Elias Pettersson to right the ship.
Vegas Golden Knights: William Foley
Operating Entity: Black Knight Sports & Entertainment & Hockey Vision Las Vegas
Bill Foley is a former attorney who has specialized in financial services. He is the chairman fo both Fidelity National Financial (FNF) and Black Knight Financial Services. Foley was in the U.S. Air Force, where he negotiated million-dollar contracts with The Boeing Company. After leaving the Air Force he purchased a struggling FNF and turned it around.
Foley has invested in numerous areas, including wineries, golf courses, hotels, ski resorts, steak houses, fast-food restaurants and auto parts manufacturers. He also explored the possibility of purchasing the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars before they were bought by another party.
Golden Knights Under Ownership
In 2016, the NHL approved a bid from Foley to become the first expansion team since 2000 and the first NHL team ever in Las Vegas. The team started playing in 2017-18. In Foley’s campaign to bring the league to Vegas, he secured more than 13,200 season ticket holders. As an expansion team, he was required to pay a $500 million expansion fee…the team is already worth $570 million (2020).
The Vegas Golden Knights broke into the NHL and took the league by storm, winning their division and reaching the Stanley Cup Final in their first season. They reached the playoffs again in their second season in an unprecedented start for the expansion franchise.
Washington Capitals: Ted Leonsis
Operating Entity: Monumental Sports & Entertainment
Ted Leonsis is a businessman, investor, filmmaker, author, inventor, philanthropist, and former politician. He’s a former senior executive with AOL and is the founder and chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the Revolution Growth Fund and SnagFilms. He invests in numerous companies including Google, Groupon, SB Nation, Forbes and many, many more.
Under Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Leonsis owns the Washington Capitals, the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, and Arena Football League teams the Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade. Separately, he owns eSports team Team Liquid.
Capitals Under Ownership
Leonsis purchased Washington Sports & Entertainment in 1999 for $200 million, $85 million of that for the Capitals. Since then, the team has had tremendous success, winning 11 division titles, three Presidents’ Trophies and the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 2017-18. The club is worth $750 million (2020).
Winnipeg Jets: Mark Chipman & David Thomson
Operating Entity: True North Sports & Entertainment, Ltd.
Mark Chipman is a Canadian businessman and lawyer. He is the president of his family’s Megill-Stephenson Company, which includes True North Sports & Entertainment (TNSE), Birchwood Automotive Group and Longboat Development Corporation. Chipman is also on the Board of Hockey Canada and is part of the selection committee for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The Right Honourable Lord Thomson of Fleet, David Thomson is of British descent and is the 3rd Baron Thomson of Fleet. He is the founder of Osmington Incorporated, a real estate firm that he owns separate from his family. The company purchases and manages commercial real estate. He’s also a major investor in FarmersEdge, a precision digital solution for farming. Thomson is also known as an avid art collector.
Jets Under Ownership
In 2011, TNSE purchased the Atlanta Thrashers and it was announced shortly after that the team would be relocated to Winnipeg. The reported sale was $170 million, with $60 million a relocation fee. The club is worth $405 million (2020).
Under Chipman and Thomson, the Jets have just begun to make an impact in the NHL. They missed the playoffs in five of their first six seasons, but now have young pieces like Patrik Laine leading the team. They have yet to win a division title and have reached the Conference Final once.
Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.