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NHL (National Hockey League) Team Differences Result in Financial Haves and Have-Nots, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

A National Hockey League (NHL), operating in the U.S. and Canada, is made up of 32 teams which, on the surface, look equally promising, since teams across a broad spectrum of profitability have managed to win the Stanley Cup in recent years.  The Coronavirus pandemic, and its restrictions on movement across the U.S.-Canada border, resulted in a realignment of the league in 2021 into four divisions:  North, East, Central and West (with all of the Canadian teams in the North division).  All games in the regular season will now be played by teams within their divisions.  The top four teams in each division will make the playoffs.
The wealthiest teams are typically in Canada and some northern U.S. states.  In addition to the Rangers, these teams include the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Montreal Canadiens, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins.  They have the most lucrative broadcast rights and the nicest arenas boasting luxury seats and plush club seats.  Further south and west, where hockey is more of an acquired taste, the picture is very different.
Revenue sharing in the NHL sees predominantly Canadian teams ponying up the lion’s share.  Some owners charge that underperforming franchises intentionally keep their revenues under the sharing threshold so as not to contribute.  Subsidies paid by high-revenue teams to lower-end rivals are capped at $150 million.  
The NHL attracts the smallest fraction of television audiences when compared to other sports, such as football, baseball and basketball.  The league is attempting to reach a younger audience through an online service called GameCenter Live.  The service affords subscribers the ability to watch almost any NHL game live on its web site in addition to full-length replays.
The big news in the NHL is the creation of an expansion team in Las Vegas, Nevada, the first expansion in 16 years.  Owner Bill Foley paid a $500 million expansion fee to establish the team, which began playing in the 2017-18 season in a new T-Mobile Arena, built by MGM Resorts International and AEG, which operates the venue.  A second expansion team, the Seattle Kraken, began play in the 2021-2022 season.  They play in the Climate Pledge Arena in the Pacific Division in the NHL’s Western Conference.

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