Penguins CEO and president David Morehouse didn't want to bite on the dollar figures put forth by Forbes magazine this week in its annual listing of NHL teams' worth -- "We do valuations periodically, and they're never in line with Forbes' valuations," he said Thursday -- but he likes his team's placement.
The Penguins were ranked the ninth most valuable among the league's 30 teams at $235 million, although some analysts might consider that figure a bit low.
Toronto topped the list at $505 million, followed by the New York Rangers at $461 million, Montreal ($408 million), Detroit ($315 million) and Boston ($302 million). Phoenix, which is struggling with ownership issues, ranked last at $134 million.
"It's encouraging that they think we're, relatively speaking, a high-value team, in the top third of the league," Morehouse said. "For a market this size, if they have us ranked ninth for a market the size of Pittsburgh, it's a compliment to the organization and the ownership."
The average value in Forbes' list is $228 million.
Forbes last year said the Penguins, coming off of a Stanley Cup championship, were worth $222 million, ranking 11th. Two years ago, they ranked No. 18 at $195 million. In 2007, it was No. 22, worth $155 million. And in '06, the team ranked third from last at $133 million.
"What's encouraging is that the value of the franchise has increased over the years, and it continues to increase with the young talent that we have and with the wonderful facility that we have," Morehouse said, referring to Consol Energy Center, which opened this fall. "It's encouraging that people are recognizing that the value of the franchise is higher."
With the Pitt-Duquesne men's basketball game at Consol Energy Center Wednesday night -- and with a late start at 9:20 -- the Penguins were interested in gauging the ice quality not too many hours afterward when they held their morning skate in advance of the home game Thursday against Atlanta.
Reviews were mixed.
"It's hard, but it was really, really bumpy," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "Right from the beginning when we were doing some drills, long passes were just skipping everywhere."
Early in the season, players struggled with soft ice the day after non-hockey events.
"I think it's definitely better that it was," forward Mike Rupp said. "I didn't have any issues [Wednesday]. The beginning of the year was a little shaky."
Orpik said bumpy is better than too soft.
"I prefer it this way to what we had at the beginning of the year," he said, adding that the softer ice they had when the building first opened "is tougher for skating and tougher for your body."
One of those who was at Consol Energy Center late to watch Pitt's win was Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, who had a front-row seat.
Panthers coach Jamie Dixon attended the Penguins' home opener, Clint Hurdle attended a Penguins game the day he was announced as the new Pirates manager, and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has attended many Penguins games.
"There is a little fraternity," Bylsma said. "We do share some time together and wish each other well.
"I had the opportunity to come [Wednesday] night. I particularly watched both coaches. I watched the game, too, but they don't get to be that close to me. They don't get to hear what I say. From that close, I was watching both benches pretty closely."
The late night didn't deter Bylsma from hitting the ice for a workout half an hour before his team's morning skate, doing laps and puck drills by himself.
The Penguins scratched forwards Mike Comrie (undisclosed injury) and Eric Godard and defenseman Ben Lovejoy. ... The Thrashers played without winger Evander Kane, who entered the game second on his team with nine goals. He took a shot off of his left knee in Atlanta's previous game. ... Atlanta winger Eric Boulton played in his 500th NHL game.
Shelly Anderson: email@example.com or 412-263-1721.