“New Jersey Devils” Case Study


The present case study aims at analyzing different aspects of the performance of the New Jersey Devils, a professional ice hockey team. First, the report provides a brief overview of the franchise’s history and attributes. Second, the paper describes the team’s game performance during the past ten years and discusses the team’s win-loss ratio. Third, the franchise is evaluated in terms of attendance and how it was affected by game performance and external factors. Fourth, the report assesses the franchise’s financial performance in terms of revenue and profitability. Fifth, the structure of the franchise is discussed with special attention to key personnel and players. Sixth, the latest innovations of the franchise are mentioned. Finally, a summary of all the franchise’s advantages and disadvantages is provided with recommendations for future development.

History of New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils is a professional ice hockey team that competes in the national hockey League (NHL). Initially, the team was created in Missouri under the name of Kansas City Scouts in 1974 (Getty). The team was unsuccessful, as it took last place in its second season with a 27-winless streak (Weiner). After that, in 1976, the team moved to Denver and became the Colorado Rockies (Getty). The team was not very successful due to instability, as no coach was with the team for two full seasons (Frei). As a result, the franchise moved to New Jersey in 1982 (Getty). This was when the team received its memorable name, logo, and all the other attributes.

Currently, the team’s colors are red, black, and white; however, the team wore red, white, and green jerseys before 1992 (Getty). The team’s logo is a monograph of letters “N” and “J” with the devil horns in red color. The team’s mascot is a seven-foot devil named “NJ Devil” who skates on ice throwing t-shirts at visitors or high-fives fans (“NJ Devil”). The team considers New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers as the central rivalries due to close proximity. Even though the team traditionally had a defense-first approach to playstyle, their team style of play changed several times throughout history as new coaches joined the teams (Chere). The most famous players on the team are Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens, Patrik Eliáš, Scott Niedermayer, and Ken Daneyko.

At the end of 2020, the franchise was estimated to be worth $530 million (Forbes, “#15 New Jersey Devils”). The primary portion of the value (41.1%) is attributed to its city and market size. Another 27.4% are attributed to the stadium, Prudential Center, in Newark, 17.5% are attributed to the revenues shared among all teams, and 14% are attributed to the brand (Forbes, “#15 New Jersey Devils”).

The franchise is in 15th place among all the ice hockey franchises (Forbes “The Business of Hockey”). The first place in terms of value is the New York Rangers, worth $1.65 billion, while the last place is taken by the Arizona Coyotes worth $285 million (Forbes “The Business of Hockey”). Thus, New Jersey Devils are in the middle of the list among all hockey teams in the NHL in terms of total value.

Seasonal Performance

The team’s performance during the past ten years was poor, as the team qualified for playoffs only twice. The last time the team qualified for playoffs was in 2018; however, the team lost to Tampa Bay Lightning (“New Jersey Devils Statistics and History”). In the last seven seasons, the team took the last or next-to-last places in the Metropolitan Division, with the only exception in the 2017-2018 season, when the team took the 5th place (“Statistics and History”). The team’s win-loss ratio during the past ten seasons differed between 0.63 in 2020 and 1.71 in 2011. However, the overall dynamics of the team’s performance in terms of win-loss ratio was negative. The team’s win-loss ratios by season are provided in Figure 1 below.

New Jersey Devil’s win-loss ratio by season
Figure 1. New Jersey Devil’s win-loss ratio by season (“Statistics and History”).

In the current season, the franchise’s performance has improved in comparison with the 2020-2021 season. Currently, the team is in the sixth position in the Metropolitan division with 22 points and a 1.29 win-loss ratio (“New Jersey Devils”). This season, the team managed to beat the Philadelphia Flyers, which gave the enthusiasm of the fans much needed during the past season. Currently, the team is only three points away from the fifth place occupied by Pittsburgh, which implies that the team has great chance to qualify for playoffs this season.

The improvement can be attributed to the new head coach. Lindy Ruff, who became the head coach of the team during the rough times of the pandemic, has adjusted the team’s tactics, which allowed New Jersey Devils to take 7th place in the 2020-2021 season after two consecutive years in the last place (“Lindy Ruff”). Thus, even though the team’s seasonal performance was poor during the past ten seasons, there are premises for the team’s future improvement.


The attendance of the team’s matches has been relatively stable for the past ten years, which is a good sign. According to the Hockey Database, the team’s average attendance was around 14,500 before the pandemic (“New Jersey Devils Yearly Attendance Graph”). In 2021, the attendance decreased to 13,200, which was to be expected, as many restrictive measures associated with COVID-19 are still intact (“Yearly Attendance”). The attendance peaked in the 2012-2013 season, after the most successful year in the team’s history (“Yearly Attendance”).

In seasons 2011-2012, the team went all the way up to the Stanley Cup finals under coach Peter DeBoer. However, the team was unable to sustain high performance, which resulted in a significant decrease in attendance in the following seasons, as it stabilized at the 14,500 mark. The graph of the average attendance is provided in Figure 2 below.

New Jersey Devils Average Attendance by Year
Figure 2. New Jersey Devils Average Attendance by Year (“Yearly Attendance”).

The team’s attendance was below its rivals, which demonstrates are comparatively low popularity of the team. New York Rangers’ average attendance was around 17,500, and Philadelphia Flyers’ average attendance was above 19,500 before the pandemic (“New York Rangers Yearly Attendance Graph,” “Philadelphia Flyers Yearly Attendance Graph”). The fact that Philadelphia is in the last place this season, its average attendance is still above 17,500, which is above the highest Devils have ever had. However, it should be noticed that Devil’s attendance is relatively stable in comparison with Rangers’. Since 2017, New York Rangers’ average attendance has started to decline. Devils’ attendance was relatively stable, and only the pandemic decreased the average number of fans attending the team’s games.

Financial Performance

New Jersey Devils is a profitable franchise with more than $150,000 million in revenues. The franchise managed to stay profitable even through the toughest time of the pandemic, as the company’s operating profit was $4.1 million in 2020. The analysis of total revenues by year demonstrates that New Jersey Devils’ revenues grew steadily before the pandemic (see Figure 3 below). The growth was not directly connected to attendance or to the team’s performance. For instance, in the 2012-2013 season, when the attendance was the highest, the franchise’s revenues were as low as $78 million.

Revenues of New Jersey Devils.
Figure 3. Revenues of New Jersey Devils.

The franchise’s profitability was also growing since 2016. New Jersey Devils was purchased by Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment in 2013 (Forbes, “#15 New Jersey Devils”). At that time, the franchise had negative profitability of -4.2 million even though the team made it to the Stanley Cup finals that year (Forbes, “#15 New Jersey Devils”). Several years after the change in ownership, the franchise started to make high profits, reaching $25 million in operating profits in 2019 (Forbes, “#15 New Jersey Devils”).

The COVID-19 pandemic had a negative effect on all the teams in NHL, and not all of them managed to preserve positive profitability. For instance, Florida Panthers declared a $29 million loss in 2020, even though the franchise’s revenues were as high as $92 million. Thus, it should be stated that New Jersey Devils’ financial performance demonstrates high resilience and stability.

The primary reason for the stability lies in the diversification of the source of income. The franchise makes money out of ticket sales, merchandise and concession sales, as well as royalties from game developers. Additionally, the team receives money from sponsors like Verizon. The fact that the company managed to stay profitable even after a significant reduction in cash inflow from ticket sales demonstrates that the company managed to receive enough money from other channels. Last year’s press release demonstrates that NHL signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Electronic Arts that supported the increase in the number of hockey games (Electronic Arts). Such interest in video games during the pandemic may have had a positive impact on the revenue inflow of the New Jersey Devils.

New Jersey Devils was one of the 16 teams that managed to make a profit in 2020 when 15 teams in the NHL had negative profitability. The franchise had comparable revenues with one of its rivals, Philadelphia Flyers, which made $162 million in revenues and $7.9 million in operating profit (Forbes, “#7 Philadelphia Flyers”). The leader among NHL teams in terms of profitability was New York Rangers, with $225 million in revenue and $87 million in operating profit (Forbes, “#1 New York Rangers”). Flyers and Rangers outperformed Devils in profitability due to the difference in the average ticket price ($66, $88, and $120 for Devils, Flyers, and Rangers, respectively) and brand price.

In summary, New Jersey Devils demonstrated a stable financial performance during the past four years. The franchise managed to make a profit even during the most stressful year of lockdown and uncertainty. The team is rated in the middle among 31 NHL teams in terms of profitability and revenues.

Franchise Structure

The franchise is owned by Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, a sports conglomerate that includes the Philadelphia 76ers, Pru Center, and an esports team called Dignitas (HB Sports & Entertainment). The owners of the conglomerate, Josh Harris and David Blitzer, are also the governors and partners of the New Jersey Devils. Harris is also the chairman, while Blitzer is the vice-chairman of the franchise.

The list of limited partners of the team includes Adam Aron, Martin Geller, James Lassiter, Marc Leader, Michael Rubin, Will Smith, and Jada Pinkett Smith (“Managing And Limited Partners”). The president of the franchise is Jake Reynolds, who works in close contact with Hugh Weber, president of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (“Managing And Limited Partners”). While Reynolds plays the central role in developing the franchise, the hockey operations are mostly overseen by the executive vice president, Tom Fitzgerald (“Managing And Limited Partners”).

The franchise’s history demonstrates how much ownership shaped the performance and the governance system of the New Jersey Devils. Before the franchise was purchased in 2013, the team had numerous traditions and much autonomy of the general managers. When the conglomerate purchased the conglomerate, it was in a very unstable financial state, which made Harris and Blitzer make radical changes. After several unsuccessful years of change, the owners of the conglomerate ask Lou Lamoriello to leave the position of the president of New Jersey Devils (Agathis).

Lamoriello was one of the most empathic leaders who created many unwritten rules and customs in the team and among the fans that made the team unique (Agathis). However, Harris and Blitzer did not look for the love of fans; instead, they were focused on staying profitable. Therefore, they took replaced Lamoriello with Ray Shero in 2015, who started his policy that was later called by the press as “just another hockey team” (Agathis). After some drastic changes in 2016, the franchise started to make significant profits starting from 2017 (“#15 New Jersey Devils”).

In 2019, just before the pandemic, Shero was once again replaced with Reynolds due to complicated power mechanics in the franchise. Shero’s performance as a general manager was outstanding when it came to financials; however, some of the hockey decisions were not so successful. For instance, renting Michael Grabner was considered a mistake by the analytics, and the drafts were often questionable (Brooks). Harris and Blitzer used these mistakes to show that they wanted to make all the decisions when it came to hockey, which limited the autonomy of Shero (Brooks).

Firing Shero and replacing him with Reynolds demonstrated that the general manager was to make only marketing and financial decisions on his own, while all the hockey decisions were to be made after close collaboration with the chairmen. Before 2019, Reynolds served as a Chief Revenue Officer at Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (New Jersey Business). He established himself as an industry leader in sales, corporate culture, and innovation; however, he knew little about hockey, which demonstrated that Harris and Blitzer wanted to make all the decisions concerning the Hockey side (New Jersey Business). As a result, the team improved from last place to the 7th in the last season and the 6th in the current season. However, the team’s performance is still viewed as unimpressive (Fischer).

Thus, the analysis demonstrates that the franchise has a very strong power structure. Even though formally, the chairman and vice-chairman make only strategic decisions, they prefer to work in close collaboration with the president when it comes to hockey operations. In fact, the president makes decisions only on paper, while Harris and Blitzer decide everything about hockey operations after consulting with Tom Fitzgerald (General Manager), Martin Brodeur (Advisor), and Dan MacKinnon (Assistant General Manager). At the same time, all the financial and management decisions are made by the president of the franchise in close collaboration with Hugh Weber, the president of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (New Jersey Business). Thus, it may be concluded that the franchise management has very little autonomy when it comes to making strategic decisions.


Even though the play of New Jersey Devils lacks imagination, the franchise is known for several innovations. For instance, in 2016, the team was the first to reach an agreement with 15 Second of Fame (New Jersey Devils). It is a mobile app that allows fans to instantly receive their personalized video if they appear on Prudential Center’s videoboard during Devils games (New Jersey Devils). The innovation was one of the new ideas of Ray Shero that was piloted in the 2015-2016 season and received positive reviews from the Prudential Center visitors. This demonstrates that the franchise was always trying to be on the cutting edge of digital technology to provide the best experience for the fans.

In 2021, Reynolds continued to put a heavy emphasis on digital technology by announcing a release of its own non-fungible (NFT) token. An NFT coin is a digital piece of digital information linked to a blockchain. The technology is similar to cryptocurrencies. Rapp reported that “the team will sell a one-of-one “NJD EST 1982” NFT coin and a one-of-one “NJD 3x Champ” coin” (para. 2). This innovation demonstrates that the franchise’s management uses innovative strategies to improve its current financial performance, which is suffering from the effects of the pandemic.

Another innovation aimed at increasing profits is a redesign of the merchandise. In particular, New Jersey Devils released a new design of black jerseys with white stripes. The jersey was designed by Martin Brodeur, the franchise’s advisor and one of the best players of the team of all time (Cuthbert). Such news caused increased interest among the fans, which may lead to significant financial success. In summary, New Jersey Devils are famous for their innovative initiatives; however, the latest initiatives are aimed at improving the financial position of the franchise rather than at improving the experience of the fans.


The analysis demonstrates that the franchise has several advantages and drawbacks. On the one hand, the franchise has a rich history and numerous fans. The franchise demonstrated a stable financial performance during the past four years and managed to stay profitable even during the first year of the pandemic. The franchise has a very strong power structure, which allows it to make money and manage its operations effectively. New Jersey Devils are also known for their innovative initiatives.

On the other hand, the team’s play stays unimpressive even though the team has improved its standings in comparison with the previous seasons. Moreover, all the innovations and changes are focused on increasing profits rather than pleasing the fans. While this strategy may be efficient short-term, it may lead to a decreased interest in the team in the future. Additionally, it should be mentioned that even though the franchise’s financial performance improved in comparison with the years before 2017, it remains mediocre when compared to its rivals.

The analysis suggests the following recommendations:

  • Improve the current management of hockey players, training strategies, and transfer policies to improve the team’s performance in NHL;
  • Take off some focus from financial performance and return to the basics of pleasing the fans to ensure the long-term stability of the franchise.

Works Cited

Agathis, Will. “The New Culture of the New Jersey Devils: Just Another Team”. Pucks and Pitchforks, 2015. Web.

Brooks, Larry. “The complicated Devil’s power structure behind Ray Shero’s demise”. NY Post, 2019. Web.

Cuthbert, Justin. “Devils unveil third jerseys designed by Martin Brodeur, and the internet has thoughts”. Yahoo News, 2021. Web.

Electronic Arts. “Electronic Arts, NHL and NHLPA Extend Multi-Year Deal to Bring More Hockey Games to Millions”. EA, 2020. Web.

Fischer, John. “A Closer Look at the New Jersey Devils Very Lackluster Power Play”. All About Jersey, 2021. Web.

Forbes. “#1 New York Rangers”. Forbes, 2021. Web.

—. “#15 New Jersey Devils”. Forbes, 2021. Web.

—. “#7 Philadelphia Flyers”. Forbes, 2021. Web.

—. “The Business of Hockey.” Forbes, 2021. Web.

Frei, Terry. “It may not be glorious, but it’s tradition nonetheless”. ESPN, 2001. Web.

Getty, Bradley. “History behind the Jersey”. NHL, 2017. Web.

HB Sports & Entertainment. Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment.

Managing And Limited Partners”. NHL, 2021. Web.

New Jersey Business. “New Jersey Devils Name New President”. New Jersey Business Magazine, 2019. Web.

New Jersey Devils. “New Jersey Devils Become First NHL Team to Feature 15 Seconds of Fame In-Arena Video Technology”. NHL, 2016. Web.

New Jersey Devils”. NHL, 2021. Web.

New Jersey Devils Statistics and History. Hockey DB, 2021. Web.

New Jersey Devils Yearly Attendance Graph”. Hockey DB, 2021. Web.

New York Rangers Yearly Attendance Graph”. Hockey DB, 2021. Web.

NJ Devil – The Official Mascot of the New Jersey Devils”. New Jersey Devils, 2003. Web.

Lindy Ruff”. Hockey DB, 2021. Web.

Philadelphia Flyers Yearly Attendance Graph”. Hockey DB, 2021. Web.

Rapp, Timothy. “New Jersey Devils Become 1st NHL Team to Sell NFT with 1-of-1 Coin”. Bleacher Report, 2021. Web.

Sports Daily. “The NHL Money Machine: How Does It Break Down?” Sports Daily. Web.

Weiner, E. “Capitals, Scouts received rare shot at April hockey”. NHL, 2008. Web.

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