NHL

The Calgary Flames — proving success isn’t always linked to money

When it comes to funding for major teams in the National Hockey League, the received wisdom has always been that money is the driving force behind any move towards success. It’s certainly true that some of the best funded teams in the League are also some of the most successful on the rink.

But the link is much more complicated than it might seem. The Calgary Flames are a prime example of an NHL team which has a lower overall value: currently, it sits at just $680 million, which ranks low compared with many other NHL teams. Yet the team is far from bad: it’s managed to secure some good players, and some decent wins. This blog post will explore the link between money and success here in the NHL.

Does money breed success?

To an extent: yes. It’s clearly the case that lucrative sponsorships, expensive partnerships and the funding from wealthy owners can swell the bank accounts of teams in the NHL. When transfer time comes around, it’s possible for the richest teams to buy up the best players.

But success isn’t just linked to money. A team like the Calgary Flames has managed to perform well despite its low market value. It has a number of top players on its team, such as Matthew Tkachuk who managed to secure a scoring rate of 0.96 points per game in the 2018–19 season. This is all in light of the fact that Flames are valued under $700 million, which is relatively low. Clearly the Flames are not precluded from enjoying success, despite not being a billion-dollar business.

An example: casino partnerships

When thinking about the link between money and success, it’s worth looking in particular at one sort of partnership type. Casino partnerships between companies like Genesis mobile casino Canada and sports teams are hotting up, and this provides new revenue for teams.

It’s happening in the context of changed rules on both the federal legal level and the sport-by-sport level. In terms of the law, the US Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was previously in place to ban gambling on the vast majority of sports across the country – something it managed to successfully do until it was declared unconstitutional in recent years. Now, states can make their own choices about whether to permit sports betting – and quite a few have, increasing the demand for such services. In terms of the NHL, the League recently announced that it had changed the rules to permit the logos of sportsbooks to be featured on jerseys.

What’s clear is that this sort of collaboration between gambling companies and sports teams is a way for squads to create new revenue streams to support their plans for long term stability. While it’s not necessarily a silver bullet for getting to the top of the league (which, by definition, is impossible – as not everyone can rise to the top), increasing funds is certainly a way of helping to increase the chances that this will happen.

How does it work in other leagues?

Other leagues are also going through a similar process of thinking about the link between money and success. It’s happening in the NFL, where in August of this year it revealed new partnerships with four sportsbooks. In other countries, meanwhile, the debate has moved on even further. It’s long been common for football teams in the UK to get sponsorships from casinos and betting shops, and to wear their logos on kits – suggesting that teams in North America are only likely to become more betting-friendly as time goes on. The global trend, it seems, is going in one direction.

Ultimately, it’s apparent to all that the link between finance and sporting prowess is deep – and, in many ways, hard to break. Some of the biggest teams in both the NHL and the wider sporting world are reliant on high level sponsorships and partnerships (or the bankrolling of rich owners) in order to break even and buy players. But the positive performance of the Calgary Flames, which has one of the lowest values in the whole League, demonstrates that there’s some hope for those sides which aren’t quite on top when it comes to money.

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