Breaking down each NHL team’s owners and their business portfolios

Many businesses have been hit hard by the ongoing pandemic. With the NHL playoffs being played out in two Canadian hubs, as well as plans for next year’s season still very much in flux, teams will continue to see financial losses next season.

One thing Brian Burke has talked about through the pandemic is that the ability of teams to sign new players to big contracts, and spend to the cap, depends on the owner’s ability to fund that spending. No fans in the stands will severely limit the revenue generated by NHL teams, so to spend to the cap owners around the league will need to dig into their pockets more than ever before. There have been reports of teams not willing to spend to the cap for the next few seasons already, and seen lopsided trades to facilitate that.

This is not meant to be prescriptive. Just because an owner’s other businesses have struggled does not necessarily mean that a team will struggle to attract high end talent. However, hockey is a business, and when a business loses a large chunk of its revenue, it either needs to find other sources of revenue or rely on cash injections from ownership or others. If an owner’s external financial position is in jeopardy, it means there is less ability for the business to continue running the way it did before the crisis.

We have taken a look at each team’s ownership below and how their other business sectors have done through the pandemic. Where a team has multiple owners, we have discussed the majority shareholder or shareholders where two.

TeamMajority OwnerNationalityMajor Business
Anaheim DucksHenry SamueliAmericanManufacturing
Arizona CoyotesAlex MerueloAmericanFood, media, casinos
Boston BruinsJeremy JacobsAmericanFood, hospitality, casinos
Buffalo SabresTerrence & Kim PegulaAmericanOil & gas, sports
Calgary FlamesN. Murray EdwardsCanadianOil & gas
Carolina HurricanesTom DundonAmericanFinance
Chicago BlackhawksRocky WirtzAmericanDiversified, Food and Beverage
Colorado AvalancheAnn Walton KroenkeAmericanWalmart, Sports, Real estate
Columbus Blue JacketsJohn P McConnellAmericanManufacturing
Dallas StarsTom GaglardiCanadianReal estate, hotels
Detroit Red WingsThe Estate of Mike IlitchAmericanFood
Edmonton OilersDaryl KatzCanadianPharmacy, real estate
Florida PanthersVincent ViolaAmericanFinance
Los Angeles KingsPhilip Anschutz & Ed RoskiAmericanLand, Rail, & Sports
Real estate
Minnesota WildCraig LeipoldAmericanEntertainment, Sales, Sports
Montreal CanadiensThe Molson FamilyCanadianBeverages
Nashville PredatorsThomas CigarranAmericanHealthcare
New Jersey DevilsJoshua HarrisAmericanFinance
New York IslandersJon Ledecky & Scott MalkinAmericanFinance
Real Estate
New York RangersJames L DolanAmericanMedia
Ottawa SenatorsEugene MelnykCanadianPharmaceuticals
Philadelphia FlyersBrian RobertsAmericanTelecommunications
Pittsburgh PenguinsRonald Burkle & Mario LemieuxAmericanSupermarkets
Hockey
San Jose SharksHasso PlattnerGermanSoftware
Seattle KrakenDavid Bonderman & Jerry BruckheimerAmericanFinance
St Louis BluesTom StillmanAmericanBeverages
Tampa Bay LightningJeffrey VinikAmericanFinance
Toronto Maple LeafsLarry TanenbaumCanadianEngineering, construction, real estate
Vancouver CanucksFrancesco AquiliniCanadianReal Estate
Vegas Golden KnightsBill FoleyAmericanFinance
Washington CapitalsTed LeonsisAmericanTechnology, finance
Winnipeg JetsMark Chipman & David ThomsonCanadianAutomotive, real estate
Media, real estate, art

Anaheim

Initially bought from the NHL by Disney in 1992 to be the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the club was purchased in 2005 by Dr. Henry and Susan Samueli. Dr Samueli holds a PhD in electrical engineering from UCLA, where he was a professor until 1995.

In 1993, he founded Broadcom Corporation, which sells semiconductors and other computing and network hardware.

Arizona

Alex Meruelo is the majority owner of the Arizona Coyotes, buying shares from hedge fund manager Andrew Barroway, who retains a minority position. Meruelo acquired the majority position in 2019, and is the first Latino owner of an NHL franchise.

Born to Cuban parents in New York City, Meruelo owns a diverse portfolio of business, under the Meruelo Group of Companies. The owns a number of local media stations across California, the Commercial Bank of California, a number of businesses in the construction business, and the largest provider and distributor of takeout sushi in the United States.

Their big industry however is casinos, which the group owns a number of large casinos in Las Vegas, including the Sahara Las Vegas.

Boston Bruins

Jeremy Jacobs bought the Bruins as part of an ownership group in 1975 from the Adams Family, who were the original owners of the franchise. This deal was contingent on the team keeping Bobby Orr, however the deal which included 18% of the franchise fell though and Orr became a free agent. He then signed with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Jacobs owns the team though Delaware North, his family’s hospitality firm. They own a number of video gambling machines across the United States, provide food and other services at a number of arenas around the world, and operate food services at a number of airports. The group also owns the home of the Bruins, TD Gardens.

Buffalo Sabres

Terrence and Kim Pegula bought the corporation that owns the Buffalo Sabres in 2011. Terrence initially got his start in oil and gas, and founded East Resources which he ran privately until he sold it to primarily to Royal Dutch Shell in 2010.

While the Pegulas have interests in real estate, natural resources, and even own a country music label, their real passion seems to be sports franchises. They own the Buffalo Bills of the NFL, Rochester Americans of the AHL, the Buffalo Bandits of the NLL, and the Buffalo Beauts of the NWHL.

Calgary Flames

The Flames are owned by Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, which has four key owners: N. Murray Edwards has been the face of the franchise for many years.

Edwards is the chair of the board, and the most prominent of the owners. He is the CEO of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL), a major player in the Canadian oilsands. He is also a part owner of Ensign Energy, a group that does field services for the oil and gas sector, and the chairman of the board of Magellan Aerospace, which handles parts for both Boeing and Airbus planes.

Carolina Hurricanes

Tom Dundon became the majority the Carolina Hurricanes in 2018, purchasing 52% of the team from Peter Karmanos Jr.

Dundon is a finance man, who got his start buying sub-prime car loans and other investment vehicles for a group that became known as Santander Consumer USA. Fans of Spanish Football will recognize Santander as the current sponsors of La Liga.

After leaving that as the Chairman and CEO in 2015, he started Dundon Capital Partners and initially invested in an office building in Dallas. He then bought a number of other companies including Top Golf, Employer Direct Health, and many others.

Chicago Blackhawks

The Wirtz family has had an interest in the Blackhawks since the 1940s. Arthur Wirtz, the initial Wirtz with the Chicago franchise, was a minority partner in the purchase of the Detroit Red Wings franchise in 1932. The family became the full owners of the team in 1966.

The franchise has passed through the Wirtz family until it came to Rocky Wirtz in 2007. The Blackhawks are just one piece of the Wirtz family’s assets, which are numerous and controlled by the Wirtz Corporation, again founded by Arthur Wirtz.

The Wirtz’s own numerous banks across the United States as well as real estate and other corporations. Their big investment outside of the Blackhawks is Breakthru Beverage Group, which is a drink distributor in Canada and the United States that counts Red Bull, Heineken, and Tito’s Vodka as part of their portfolio.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche were purchased from Comcast in 2000 by Stan Kroenke, although because he owns the Los Angeles Rams, the NFL made him put the team in his wife’s name as the NFL has a rule restricting owners from owning sports franchises in other cities.

Stan Kroenke is a real estate developer, specializing in strip malls and plazas. He is married to Ann Walton Kroenke, who is an heiress to the Walmart fortune. Many of the Kroenke’s developments are located around Walmart stores.

Between them they own Arsenal FC, The Denver Nuggets, Colorado Mammoths, and others. They also own the Pepsi Centre and numerous other arenas and stadiums in Colorado, as well as a media group that broadcasts all of the Kroenke team’s games among others.

Columbus Blue Jackets

John P. McConnell is the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Worthington Industries, a metals manufacturing firm based in Columbus. The group specializes in pressurized containers such as oxygen tanks for numerous markets.

The company was founded by McConnell’s father, John H McConnell, who personally guaranteed an arena would be built in Columbus as a condition to secure a team in the city. He was one of five original owners of the team.

Dallas Stars

Tom Gaglardi purchased the team out of bankruptcy protection in 2011. Owner of Northland Properties, his family’s group owns the Sandman Hotel chain, Denny’s and Moxies restaurant chains, as well as Grouse Mountain and Revelstoke Mountain resorts.

The Gaglardi group has over $6 billion in assets, and also own the Texas Stars of the AHL and the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL.

Detroit Red Wings

The late Mike Ilitch bought the Red Wings in 1982, and was the owner through the glory years of the 1990s and 2000s, prior to his passing in 2017.

Ilitch is best known as the founder of Little Caesars, the pizza chain that he started in 1959. With over 5000 locations worldwide, the restaurant is the jewel of the Ilitch family’s fortune. They also have a real estate arm, and own the Detroit Tigers.

Ilitch’s wife, Marian Ilitch, has a number of casinos that she owns, which contribute to the family’s wealth. However, due to MLB restrictions against owners owning gambling establishments, the casinos are owned and operated by her in her name. She is one of the seven wealthiest self-made women in the world.

Edmonton Oilers

Daryl Katz purchased the team in 2008, and brought it under the Katz Group of Companies umbrella.

Born and raised in Edmonton, Katz studied law but ended up buying and operating a pharmaceutical business. As the owner of the Canadian rights to the Medicine Shoppe pharmacies and ownership of Rexall Pharmacies, he grew and developed both into major brands. He also owned numerous other pharmacy brands across North America.

He purchased the team as part of a broader plan to redevelop the area around the arena through his development arm. His group has been leading the charge to revitalize the newly named Ice District of Edmonton with a casino, major hotels, over a thousand new condo units, and much more.

Florida Panthers

Vincent Viola bought the Panthers in 2013, and moved his family from New York to South Florida at the same time.

From humble roots, Viola studied at the US Military Academy before working on Wall Street. He founded Virtu Financial, a financial services and trading company based in New York City. He also played an active role with the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).

Viola was nearly nominated as Secretary of the Army by Donald Trump in 2016, but he withdrew citing regulations against personal business.

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings were bought out of bankruptcy protection in 1995 by Philip Anschutz and Ed Roski.

Anschutz bought out his father’s oil company in 1961, and used the profits from that business to purchase mass amounts of land in the American Midwest. Some of the land he bought was over an enormous oil reserve. He also has interests in railways, other oil and gas businesses, and in the entertainment business, where his group operates Coachella Music Festival. He was also one of the founders of Major League Soccer, where he owned numerous teams.

Roski is a real estate person, who owns and operates Majestic Realty Co, which focuses on building and operating primarily business parks across the United States. He also owns the Silverton Las Vegas, and is a minority owner of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Minnesota Wild

Craig Leipold bought the Wild from original owner Bob Naegele Jr. in 2008. He had previously been the owner of the Nashville Predators, bought sold them due to poor attendance.

Leipold initially started in sales as the owner of a business to business telemarketing firm before operating a footwear company. He was also a past director of the Gaylord Corporation, which owns numerous hotels across the United States and operates Grand Ol’ Opry, a weekly country music concert series.

Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens and the Molson Family have a long history together. Starting in 1957 when it was first bought by the family, the ownership has changed hands numerous times, but each time has found its way back to the Molsons. Most recently it was sold to George Gillett in 2001, but was bought back by the Molsons in 2009 for over double what it was initially sold for.

The Molson’s are best known for owning and operating the Molson brewery, which they have done since the late 1700s. The family also founded the Molson Bank, which later merged with the Bank of Montreal, one of Canada’s five largest banks.

Nashville Predators

Thomas Cigarran was the most prominent owner of the Predators when a local group purchased the team from current Wild owner Craig Leipold. He worked to strengthen local ownership of the team, and has been vocal about keeping the team in Nashville.

Cigarran is a healthcare person, founding and operating Healthways Inc, a community healthcare group, until it was sold to Dr. Mehmet Oz’s group Sharecare. He also was the President of AmSurg, America’s largest outpatient surgery group.

New Jersey Devils

Josh Harris and his business partner David Blazer of The Blackstone Group purchased majority ownership of the Devils in 2013.

Harris is a business major who founded Apollo Global Management in 1990. The private equity firm manages money for pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and more, and invests in businesses and credit to derive a yield for their clients. They also invest in real estate and other investment vehicles for their clients.

New York Islanders

College roommates Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin purchased the Islanders in 2008.

Ledecky started in venture capital before starting US Office Products, an office supply firm in 1994. After it went public, he left the firm in 1998. Since then, he tried to acquire numerous sports franchise, and owned a minority share of the Washington Capitals for a time prior to purchasing the Isles.

Malkin came from a real estate family. Most notably, his father owned the Empire State Building in New York City. He instead moved to London and opened a series of high end outlet shops called Value Retail Plc. The firm has outlets across Europe and China, and does $1.5 billion in sales per year.

New York Rangers

The Dolan family bought the Rangers from Viacom in 1994. They bought the remaining 50% of the shares in the team a few years later, but have since sold shares and currently retain about 70% of the shares in Madison Square Gardens Sports, which owns the team and the New York Knicks.

James Dolan joined Cablevision, his family’s firm, and did numerous jobs prior to being named CEO in 1995. He retained the role until the firm was sold in 2016. He has been heavily criticized for his management style of the teams he owns.

Ottawa Senators

Eugene Melnyk purchased the Senators in 2003, after owning the Mississauga Steelheads and Niagara IceDogs for a time.

He got his start in pharmaceuticals, founding and operating Biovail Corporation, which specialized in finding drugs with expired patents then reworking them and re-patenting them. He left the firm in 2007 after pressure from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, who later sued him for fraud.

Melnyk is a full time resident of Barbados.

Philadelphia Flyers

The Comcast Corporation, under the watch of CEO Brian Roberts, owns the Philadelhia Flyers. The team is owned and operated under Comcast Spectator, which owns 100% of the team.

Roberts’ father started Comcast in 1969, which became the largest broadcaster in the United States. Comcast owns NBC, Dreamworks Studios, Sky Group, and numerous others on top of being a television, cell phone service, internet, and cable service firm. The group has an estimated value over $100 billion.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins ran into major financial difficulties in 1998, with the team asking players to take a deferral on their salaries. When those were due to be paid, the team filed for bankruptcy.

Mario Lemiuex, the largest individual creditor, made the proposal to turn the debt owed to him into equity and purchase the team alongside Ronald Burkle, with the plan to keep the team in Pittsburgh.

While Lemieux made the majority of his money in hockey, Burkle made his money in supermarkets. He owned Whole Foods, Tesco and others. He has also invested in tech firms like SeatGeek, Uber, and Spotify.

San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sports and Entertainment Enterprises was founded in 2002 when former owner George Gund III put the team’s assets for sale. With various compositions of owners over the years, Hasso Plattner currently owns the largest proportion of shares, and is the only German majority owner of an NHL franchise.

Plattner is a software man, founding and operating SAP SE, a software company that specializes in business and customer relations software. It is the world’s third largest software and programming firm, with point of sale software its most well-known product. Aside from SAP, he also owns a number of golf courses.

Seattle Kraken

The newest NHL Franchise, David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer purchased the franchise in 2018.

Bonderman is the chairman and founding partner of TPG, a private equity firm. Over the years, the group has bought and sold numerous corporations including Continental Airlines, which netted them a return of over ten times what they paid for it. He was also on the board of Uber, until he resigned in 2017 following a sexism controversy.

Jerry Bruckheimer is a film and television producer, famous for such works as Top Gun, Pearl Harbour, and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchises. He also produced all the CSI television series as well as The Amazing Race before turning his attention to sports.

St. Louis Blues

Tom Stillman is the majority owner of SLB Acquisitions Holdings LLC, which acquired the Blues in 2012. The group claims to have 100% local ownership.

Stillman is a lawyer by training, working in government and the private sector through his career. He left legal practice in 1994 to found Summit Distributing, a beer distributor based out of St. Louis. They are best known as the distributor for Coors, Corona (the beer, not the virus), and Molson Canadian among others. He lives in St. Louis to this day.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Jeffrey Vinik purchased the Lightning in 2010 from Oren Koules, a filmmaker, and Len Barrie, a former Lightning player.

Vinik is a finance man who managed funds for Fidelity through the mid 1990s. He started his own firm Vinik Asset management, which yielded incredible profits for their clients. He then turned to managing him and his partner’s own money until they closed the fund in 2013. An engineer by training, Vinik has also been involved with the Water Street project, revitalizing the area around Amalie Arena, where the Lightning play.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment was founded in 1931 by Conn Smythe, and is currently owned by a partnership between Rogers Communications and Bell Media, which own 75% of the business. The other 25% is owned by Kilmer Sports, which is owned by Larry Tannenbaum, who is the face of the organization.

Tannenbaum is an economist by training but was the President and CEO of Kilmer Van Nostrand Co. Limited until 2000. The firm is a civil engineering and construction firm that has worked on roadways and subways across the Americas. The firm also owned The Warren Paving & Materials Group, which merged with Lafarge North America.

In addition to construction, Kilmer also has interests in real estate, owns the ONRoute truckstops, and built the athlete’s village for the 2015 Pan Am Games. The group also has numerous other investments though various consortium and arrangements.

Vancouver Canucks

Francesco Aquilini purchased the Canucks in 2004 alongside John McCaw Jr, who he later bought out.

Francesco joined his father’s real estate and development group Aquilini Investment Group, which has bought and sold real estate across Canada. They have built residential condominium buildings around Rogers Arena, and own land and enterprises across Canada, the United States, and Italy.

Aside from real estate, the group also owns all the Pizza Hut’s in British Columbia, a blueberry and cranberry farm, and are looking to develop a ski resort in Squamish, just outside Vancouver.

Vegas Golden Knights

Bill Foley is the lead investor in the Golden Knights, which is owned by Black Knight Sports & Entertainment, which carries the same name as his financial services firm.

A lawyer and former military man, Foley made the majority of his money buying and revitalizing Fidelity National Financial, a financial services fund. He also has an ownership stake in Ceridian, a payroll company, and Remy International, an auto parts group. He also owns a number of wineries, ski resorts, and golf courses among other things.

Washington Capitals

Ted Leonsis is known as one of the founders of the Internet, and was a senior executive of AOL through the 1990s. He also has a venture capital fund that has invested in Google, SB Nation, Groupon, and many more.

Aside from owning the Capitals, he also owns the Washington Wizards of the NBA, the Washington Mystics of the WNBA, and many others. He also owns Monumental Sports Network, which broadcasts games.

Winnipeg Jets

Mark Chipman and David Thomson were responsible for for bringing the Winnipeg Jets back north.

Chipman is a lawyer by training, but worked initially at Birchwood Automative Group, a series of dealerships owned by his family. He then grew the group to encompass a real estate development arm and more. His group is responsible for developing real estate around the MTS Centre among others.

Thomson, the 3rd Baron Thomson of Fleet, is the chairman of the Thomson Corporation and wealthiest person in Canada, with an estimated net worth of $35.7 billion dollars.

The Thomson Corporation owns a number of media outlets as Thomson Reuters, Postmedia, legal and accounting products galore. The group also has interests in real estate, and are well known for their enormous art collection.

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