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Mike Ilitch named top NHL owner

Sports Illustrated recently released its list of the top owners overall and in each of the four professional leagues. Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch was named the No. 1 owner in the NHL.

With that in mind, decided to identify the five best and five worst owners in each of the four major team sports. While the method was not scientific, the results were based on numerous factors, some of which are indisputable and some of which are intangible. The criteria used to evaluate owners included:


  • Team's success or failure on the field.
  • Willingness to spend money to improve the team.
  • Stability and capabilities of the front office and management.
  • Amenities at the team's venue.
  • Club's culture and interactivity with fans.
1 Mike Ilitch Detroit Red Wings
Purchased 1982
Purchase Price Current Value W-L Winning % Playoffs Championships
$8M $303M 1,080-732-225-54 .533 23 4
Any potential buyer of one of the NHL's Original Six knows he has a huge obligation, and Ilitch understood that immediately when he purchased his hometown team for $8 million in 1982. The Wings were riding nine straight sub-.500 seasons at the time. The Little Caesars Pizza magnate immediately began pumping money into the organization and, under his ownership, the team drafted impact players such as Steve Yzerman, Bob Probert, Adam Oates and Steve Chiasson. It took a little time, but the Wings became a perennial playoff team and, finally, brought Lord Stanley back to Hockeytown in 1997 -- the first of four championships of the Ilitch Era.




Five Best Owners

1          Mike Ilitch                                             Detroit Red Wings

2          Jeffrey Vanderbeek                                New Jersey Devils

3          Mario Lemieux/Ron Burkle                   Pittsburgh Penguins

4          San Jose Sports and Entertainment        San Jose Sharks

5          Peter Karmanos                                      Carolina Hurricanes


Five Worst Owners

1          MLSE                                                   Toronto Maple Leafs

2          Alan Cohen                                           Florida Panthers

3          Charles Wang                                        New York Islanders

4          Atlanta Spirit                                         Atlanta Thrashers

5          Predator Holdings LLC                         Nashville Predators