As the world learned last week, there are two requisites to owning a sports team. The first is to be rich. The second is to not be stupid.
Banished Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling found out that it’s a privilege to lead a sports team, and the perk can be revoked. When someone damages the NBA, NFL, MLB or NHL brand, the league commissioner and fellow owners can – and will – step in.
As Sterling’s fellow owners lined up to eagerly bid him farewell, I realized I wouldn’t know half of the NHL owners if they walked through the press box in First Niagara Center. For every Jeremy Jacobs and Ted Leonsis, vocal and recognizable owners, there’s a John McConnell and Edward Roski, guys that don’t draw tape recorders or cameras.
With that in mind, here’s a roll call of the NHL’s ownership group, including the year they purchased their teams.
Anaheim: Henry and Susan Samueli, 2005. This is merely a listing and not a witch hunt, but it doesn’t take long to find an owner who’s faced league discipline. The NHL suspended Buffalo-born Henry Samueli indefinitely in June 2008 after he entered a guilty plea for backdating stock options. He was reinstated in October 2009, shortly before a federal judge tossed out his plea and dropped the charge. As the co-founder of Broadcom Corp., Samueli made his money by putting computer chips into cable boxes and smartphones. Though born in Buffalo, he grew up in California.
Boston: Jeremy Jacobs, 1975. The Buffalo native and University at Buffalo graduate is probably the most well-known owner in the NHL. He’s chairman of the board of governors, the boss among bosses. Hospitality and food services through Delaware North provides his wealth, but you probably knew that.
Buffalo: Terry Pegula, 2011. It felt unnecessary telling you who Jeremy Jacobs is, so I’m certainly not going to expand on Pegula.
Calgary: N. Murray Edwards, Alvin G. Libin, Allan P. Markin, Jeff McCaig, Clayton H. Riddell and Byron J. Seaman. Spending money should never be a problem for the Flames, who have five oil men, a banker and a trucking mogul running the show.
Carolina: Peter Karmonos, 1994. The co-founder of software company Compuware bought the team when it was in Hartford, Conn., and moved it to Carolina in 1997.
Chicago: W. Rockwell “Rocky” Wirtz, 2007. The latest to take over the family business, his grandfather Arthur Wirtz purchased the Blackhawks in 1954. Wirtz owns companies that distribute wine and spirits, insurance and financial services.
Colorado: Stan Kroenke, 2000. He purchased the NFL’s St. Louis Rams in 2010 and is in the process of giving financial control of the Avalanche to his son, Josh, due to the rules regarding cross-sport, multicity ownership. The Kroenkes own development and cable companies, and Stan Kroenke married into the family that owns Walmart.
Columbus: John P. McConnell, 1997. His father founded Worthington Industries, a steel and metal manufacturing company based in Ohio.
Dallas: Tom Gaglardi, 2011. He’s the president of Northland Properties Corporation, Canada’s largest family-owned hospitality company with hotel and restaurant chains. Before getting the Stars, he tried to buy his hometown Vancouver Canucks and proposed moving the Atlanta Thrashers to Hamilton, Ont.
Detroit: Mike and Marian Ilitch, 1982. The founder of Little Caesars Pizza also owns the Detroit Tigers baseball team.
Edmonton: Daryl Katz, 2008. Originally a lawyer, Katz became owner of Canadian pharmacy chain Rexall.
Florida: Vincent Viola, 2013. The West Point graduate owns Virtu Financial, an online stock trading company.
Los Angeles: Philip F. Anschutz and Edward P. Roski Jr., 1995. Anschutz started in gas and oil, but he expanded into railroads, movie theaters, sports arenas and teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers. Roski is a real estate developer.
Minnesota: Craig Leipold, 2008. He was the founding owner of the Nashville Predators before selling the club in 2007. He founded Ameritel, which distributes office products. His wife, Helen, is daughter of the founder of S.C. Johnson, which makes a long list of household goods.
Montreal: Geoff, Andrew and Justin Molson, 2009. If you don’t recognize the last name, head to a bar and look at the beer signs.
Nashville: Thomas Cigarran, Christopher Cigarran, Herb Fritch, Joel and Holly Dobberpuhl, DeWitt Thompson IV, Dewitt Thompson V, John Thompson, David Freeman, Warren Woo and W. Brett Wilson, 2007. Known as Predators Holdings LLC, the Nashville residents range from health care executives to investment managers to medical waste disposal founders.
New Jersey: Josh Harris and David Blitzer, 2013. The duo also owns the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA. They are investors.
New York Islanders: Charles Wang, 2000. Rumored to be selling the team, the Shanghai-born Wang is the founder of Computer Associates, a software company.
New York Rangers: James Dolan, 1997. The executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company is president of a cable television company. Dolan also runs the NBA’s New York Knicks, and the company was ordered to pay more than $11 million in a sexual harassment suit to a fired executive.
Ottawa: Eugene Melnyk, 2003. Melnyk made his money with pharmaceutical companies. In 2011, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission barred him from serving as an officer or director of a public company, and the Ontario Securities Commission banned him from having senior roles at public companies. Both bans were for five years.
Philadelphia: Ed Snider, 1966. The only owner the Flyers have had, Snider was a partner in a record company and minority owner of the NFL’s Eagles before founding the hockey team.
Phoenix: George Gosbee, Craig Stewart, Gary Drummond, W. David Duckett, W. R. Dutton, Robert Gwin, Anthony LeBlanc, Scott Saxberg and Richard Walter, 2013. Collectively known as IceArizona LLC., the group features six oil and gas executives, two investment heads and a sales and marketing leader.
Pittsburgh: Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, 1999. The bankrupt Penguins owed Lemieux, their Hall of Fame player, more than $32 million in deferred salary, so he converted the money into equity in the team. Burkle got his start in the supermarket business.
San Jose: Hasso Plattner, Gary Valenzuela, Gordon Russell and Rudy Staedler, 2002. San Jose Sports & Entertainment Enterprises is led by Plattner, the Berlin-born co-founder of software company SAP.
St. Louis: Tom Stillman, Jerald Kent, Donn Lux, James Cooper, Jo Ann Taylor Kindle, Steve Maritz, Edward Potter, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Taylor, David Steward, James Kavanaugh, John Danforth, Christopher Danforth, Jim Johnson III, Scott McCuaig, John Ross, Jr., and Tom Schlafly, 2012. Led by Stillman, who made his money in beer distribution, the group includes a former ambassador to the United Nations.
Tampa Bay: Jeff Vinik, 2010. The minority investor in the Boston Red Sox managed a mutual fund and owned a hedge fund company.
Toronto: Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, 1926. It would take two pages to explain the ownership history. Larry Tanenbaum, longtime CEO of a construction company, owns 25 percent.
Vancouver: Francesco, Roberto and Paolo Aquilini, 2004. The family invests in everything from real estate to pizza chains to vodka-based beverages.
Washington: Ted Leonsis, 1999. The blog-writing owner was a senior executive for Internet pioneer AOL. He also owns the NBA’s Wizards.
Winnipeg: Mark Chipman, 2011. The chairman of True North Sports and Entertainment has ties to automotive retailing, real estate and construction.