In terms of ownership and operation of a team most of the teams in the NHL are owned by private people and investors, but only one player so far has sole ownership of a NHL franchise and that’s Mario Lemieux who played 17 years (1984-2006) with the Pittsburgh Penguins and when the team was in jeopardy with bankruptcy he purchased the team in 1999. This was 7 years before his retirement from the team. He was called by most to be the next “Wayne Gretzky” because he was equally talented as Wayne Gretzky who basically started his playing career from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and finishing out his career with the New York Rangers. Gretzky too also has ownership (partial) of the professional team the Phoenix Coyotes since his retirement in 1999.
There’s a lot to be said since athletes who turn around and invest in the teams they devoted years to a successful career with for so many years tend to bring back a bigger crowd because the status of being an owner is an even bigger place in the sport of hockey. After 17 seasons Lemieux had defiantly earned his place in the hockey world since he owns the Penguins and what person could be better fitted since he knows the team from the inside out and can appoint the right people to recruit talented players to the team.
Owning a team is a lot of work and can be expensive and risky if you don’t know what you’re doing to bring in the crowd needed to make a team successful. Many people don’t see the actual price tag it takes to operate and run an NHL franchise. You’re looking at between $50-75 million dollars to own and operate a team and that doesn’t include the cost of renting a facility where the games are played at since the numbers would be through the roof if you had to do the math on that one. Milwaukee doesn’t have a hockey team for the very reason explained it was a financial issue and having done a survey there was a huge lack of interest. The interest level would be much higher if they had someone like Wayne Gretzky or some well known NHL legend either co-owning or is the sole owner of a team then there would be a chance for Milwaukee to actually consider the idea because then the investors won’t feel like they’ll lose money on a project that isn’t really going anywhere if there’s no standing or interest in it.
Not to mention the main focus would be the financial projections for the next 5 to 10 seasons because the idea of having a franchise in the NHL is to make money and be a winning team. It’s when you see teams going into bankruptcy because usually that indicates low ticket sales over a course of years or in a single season to not packing them in and looking at attendance and other factors as well such as merchandise sales. It’s not a pretty sight when teams end up being bought or sold by people, but they seem to have a chance of surviving when the owner is a popular player because the name alone will draw in some serious revenue when people know that a former professional player is the owner of a team that does win.