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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Which NHL teams are in trouble?

I don't have insight to the financial situation of NHL teams, but this table in the current issue of Sports Business Journal was informative:

The last column is is an important barometer concerning the popularity of franchises in their host cities/regions. Atlanta, Phoenix, Florida (Miami), and Tampa all have 9,000 or fewer households watching their regionally televised games; this does not bode well for those franchises.

Thus very few people care about hockey in these four regions, which might not be surprising given that they are warm-climate cities with very little history of hockey, even if Northern transplants have been relocating to these areas over the past twenty years. Further, these four franchises are going to be at a considerable disadvantage relative to their competitors as the regional broadcast rights will be worth less than, say, the contract in Pittsburgh.

Permanent cellar-dweller is not good for franchise fortunes nor for their continued presence in their host city. The Flames left Atlanta in 1980; what's the over-under for the Thrashers?

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