Molson’s Canadiens again

The Molson family has emerged as the winner in the bidding war for the Montreal Canadiens.

Andrew (left) & Geoffrey Molson

MONTREAL — The Molson family has emerged as the winner in the bidding war for the Montreal Canadiens.

Team owner George Gillett and Geoff Molson issued a joint statement Saturday saying they have an agreement in principle for the Molsons to purchase the storied NHL club.

If it receives approval from the NHL’s board of governors — and league commissioner Gary Bettman has said he likes it — the transaction is expected to be completed by late August.

The NHL board of governors are to meet Wednesday in Montreal but are not likely to be ready to approve the sale on such short notice. Their decision is expected later in the summer.

The two sides are to hold a news conference to announce the sale as soon as the deal is finalized, they said. A team spokesman said no time frame has been set for the announcement.

They didn’t reveal the sale price or any other details, but reports said Gillett’s 80.1-per-cent interest in the team and 100 per cent stake in its arena, the Bell Centre, and event promotion company Gillett Entertainment Group should exceed $500 million and could even top $600 million.

Gillet paid $275 million for that package on Jan. 31, 2001 and has built it into one of the NHL’s most profitable clubs.

He is also co-owner of soccer giant Liverpool FC with Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks.

Brothers Geoff, Andrew and Justin Molson, whose family first bought into the Canadiens in the 1950s, were up against a handful of bidders for the team, including Quebecor Media.

Another who reportedly showed interest was Seagram heir Stephen Bronfman, as well as at least one bid from the United States.

Gillett said he was “pleased to return the ownership of the Canadiens to the Molson family, a family that has been associated with the club for over three generations and committed to the Montreal community for seven generations over a 223-year period.“

While Gillett is the majority owner, the remaining 19.9 per cent of the team remains with the Molson Coors company.

“I am fully confident that the Molson brothers, who have been a great part of the heritage of the club, will ensure the preservation and development of this great sports institution,“ Gillett added.

The Molsons vowed to maintain the team’s traditions and “work with management to build a strong team on the ice and aim to bring back the Stanley Cup to Montreal.“

“This is a very exciting time for our family,“ said Geoff Molson, who is on the team’s board of directors, although he has withdrawn from its activities during the sale process.

Provincial finance minister Raymond Bachand has made a $100-million loan available to any new owners, as long as they’re from Quebec.

Bettman said ownership by the Molson family will be good for the team’s fans.

“I think to the extent that they’ve been able to find people who are obviously passionate about the game and structure a transaction that makes sense for everybody, that’s a real plus for the franchise and the fans in Montreal,” he said.

Montreal La Presse reported that former Canadiens player and general manager Serge Savard would have “an important role” on the team, possibly as an investor, but he wasn’t mentioned in the statement.

Savard reportedly had looked into launching his own bid for the Canadiens.

“I know we had two or three very prominent and impressive groups that were bidding for the team,” Paul Kelly, head of the NHL Players’ Association, said in Las Vegas.

“I know that the purchase price got up there in numbers that are well above all of our pay grades. That’s a great franchise and a great city . . .

“Mr. Gillett was really a fine owner,” Kelly added.

“We will miss him in the National Hockey League. I thought he brought a lot of creativity and ingenuity and colour to the sport.”

Just Posted

Red Deer teacher contracts condemning same-sex relationships ‘not acceptable’

Eggen says Red Deer Catholic Schools assured him they no longer have employees sign the form

Second-degree murder trial on hold until January

Jury not back until Jan. 7 for 2015 stabbing death trial while lawyers argue evidence issues

Hospitalizations jump in Red Deer due to opioid poisonings

Small city hospitals impacted more by opioid crisis

Stray dog spotted in one Red Deer neighbourhood, could be missing for 1 year

Red Deerians asked not to feed this german shepard

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Trump comments upend U.S. approach to Huawei, trade talks

WASHINGTON — The United States and China have taken pains this week… Continue reading

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Dumba scores twice, Wild rout Canadiens 7-1

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Reeling and banged up, the Minnesota Wild were… Continue reading

Coach Hunter wants up-tempo Team Canada as world junior squad hits ice

COLWOOD, B.C. — Team Canada coach Tim Hunter says the team that… Continue reading

Study finds female-led films outperform male ones

NEW YORK — A study organized by Time’s Up, the organization formed… Continue reading

Price Is Right contestant wins winter trip to Winnipeg, Churchill

WINNIPEG — Who wants to visit Winnipeg in the dead of winter?… Continue reading

CBC Gem streaming service to launch exclusive content, partners with Wattpad

TORONTO — The CBC has launched a new streaming service featuring live… Continue reading

‘Part of the solution:’ Alberta seeks proposals to build new refinery

EDMONTON — Alberta is looking for someone to build a new oil… Continue reading

Most Read