- Darren Rovell, ESPN.com Sports Business reporter
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Canada isn't merely hockey's home, it's also home to the most valuable NHL franchises.
For the first time since 1998, when Forbes magazine began estimating NHL team values, three of the five most financially robust franchises are found north of the border.
Forbes tabs the Toronto Maple Leafs as the most valuable team in the league at $1.15 billion, while the Montreal Canadiens (at $775 million) and the Vancouver Canucks (at $700 million) were third and fourth, respectively, in the list released on Monday. The New York Rangers fall at No. 2 on the list ($850 million), and the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks round out the top five at $625 million.
The Boston Bruins, the team the Blackhawks beat in last season's Stanley Cup finals, come in at No. 6 on the list at $600 million.
With fewer dollars shared between teams, much of a franchise's value comes from ticket sales, with home teams taking the entire loot. The league's five most expensive average ticket prices last season came, not surprisingly, from Canadian teams. This despite the fact that a Canadian team hasn't won a Stanley Cup title since the Canadiens in 1993.
The average franchise is worth $413 million, according to the magazine, up 46 percent over the past year.
The average price still lags behind the other major sports leagues. Forbes says the average NFL team is worth $1.17 billion, the average MLB team is worth $744 million and the average NBA team is worth $509 million.
For the first time since 1998, when Forbes magazine began estimated NHL team values, three of the top five most financially robust franchises are found north of the border.