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Forbes: Maple Leafs most valuable NHL team at $332 million; Capitals are last @NHLdotcom

NEW YORK (AP) -The Toronto Maple Leafs are the most valuable NHL team, even though the Original Six franchise hasn't captured the Stanley Cup in 40 years, according to Forbes.

The value of the Maple Leafs has gone up 23 percent a year since the initial investment by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan in 1994, said Forbes, which released its annual valuations of all 30 NHL teams Thursday. The Maple Leafs team has a current value of $332 million, $26 million more than the New York Rangers in second place.

The Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks rank 15th among the 30 teams with a value of $157 million, but that's quite a jump.

Two years ago, when the NHL lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season, Henry and Susan Samueli purchased the team. They already controlled the Honda Center where the Ducks play and got the team for $70 million, only $20 million more than The Walt Disney Co. paid to launch the expansion club in 1992.

Hockey teams are worth more now than before the collective bargaining agreement that ended the lockout, Forbes said. And player salaries are down to 54 percent of league revenues, and the salary cap ensures fixed costs.

That means buyers will pay a higher multiple of revenue to acquire a franchise, Forbes said. The average hockey team is worth $180 million and makes an operating profit of $4.2 million. During the 2003-2004 season, the last before the lockout, the average hockey team was worth $163 million and lost $3.2 million.

The Washington Capitals, at $127 million, have the lowest franchise value, Forbes said. They are worth $1 million less than the Atlanta Thrashers.

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