Yes, it’s true: the Toronto Maple Leafs are once again the top team in hockey.
At least, they’re the top team when it comes to Forbes’ annual ranking of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. In fact, the Leafs are the only NHL team to crack the top-50 list complied by the magazine.
According to Forbes, the Leafs are worth an estimated $1.15 billion, which is good enough for the 26th spot on the list. They have held the title as the most valuable team in the NHL continuously since 2005. They’re also the only Canadian sports team to ever appear on the list. (You mean the Toronto Argonauts haven’t made it?)
The sheer dominance of the Leafs over the rest of the NHL from both a financial and fan base perspective shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, Toronto is hockey’s biggest market.
Whether you’re a citizen of Leafs Nation or proudly carry the passport of another team, there’s no denying the omnipresence of Toronto across the NHL. From Hockey Night in Canada to the cover art of your favourite hockey video game, you’re bound to encounter the Leafs in some capacity. As the critics often complain, they’re everywhere.
It’s unlikely any rival NHL team will overtake Toronto on Forbes’ list anytime soon. A new television deal between the NHL and Rogers – one of the Leafs’ parent companies – is sure to increase the size of the team’s coffers even further.
Unfortunately, money doesn’t guarantee success on the ice – a sad reality for Leafs fans in the pre- and post-salary cap eras. This is where fans of other teams have plenty of ground to criticize the Leafs.
Despite all their wealth, despite all the attention paid to them, the Leafs have very little to show in terms of recent on-ice success. In other words, Toronto’s an incredibly poor franchise where it really matters: the trophy cabinet.
Of course, I’d love to debate this point, but I just saw something new about the Leafs and I’d rather spend my attention on it than taking the time to think about the other teams in the NHL.