Despite the enthusiasm around this year's young and talented squad and the late season surge that almost put the Desert Dogs in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, the team apparently is still in financial dire straits.
A Forbes Magazine report lists the Coyotes as the NHL's least valuable team. According to the article, which is released once per year for every league in the United States, the Coyotes are worth $142 million, $8 million behind the New York Islanders, who came in 29th.
"The plans to expand the NHL to the southwest and ignite economic growth in Glendale, Arizona by meshing a new multi-purpose arena with 6.5 million square feet of new real estate development has been a catastrophe. Under the leadership of Steven Ellman, Jerry Moyes and Wayne Gretzky, the Coyotes have been a dysfunctional and under-capitalized hockey franchise that Gretzky, the team boss, has been unable to get a grip on. Westgate City, in part tied to the success of people showing up for hockey games, has been a bust. As a result of their consistent losses on and off the ice the Coyotes have struggled to draw fans to Jobing.com Arena since the building opened in December 2003. If it were not for the huge fee the team would have to pay as stipulated by their lease if they were to move, it would make sense for the Coyotes to bolt Phoenix." -Forbes
The Islanders, strikingly, are in a much worse off position in terms of hockey operations than the Coyotes; the Isles are clearly in a rebuilding phase, have a roster stocked with NHL also-rans, raw talents and aging vets and play in a dilapidated Nassau Coliseum. That's a 180-degree difference from the 'Yotes, who play in what I think is one of the best buildings in the league, have talent across the board and stand a real chance at making the playoffs in the next season or two.
The Coyotes are also second to last in the NHL in operating income; the team operates in the red to the tune of -$9.7 million. That's 2nd to last in the league, only ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes.
If you're curious, the league's most valuable team, not surprisingly, is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite their recent struggles (the team hasn't made the postseason for three consecutive seasons, a franchise first), the team is, for comparisons sake, simply the New York Yankees of Canada. The top four teams on the list, Toronto, the Rangers, Montreal and Detroit, are four of the NHL's Original Six.
Despite all of this, Forbes says that 2007-08 was the NHL's most successful (financially) in the 10 year history of the survey.
Check out the rest of the report here, which also includes links to their reports on football, basketball, baseball and soccer.