Molson buys Montreal Canadiens
Three colours, 24 Stanley Cups, over 3,000 victories, millions of fans – and 100 years. In 2009 the Montreal Canadiens celebrate their centennial as one of hockey's most legendary teams. The Habs have made Montrealers proud, but they are beloved far beyond their hometown for their star players and impressive records. CBC Digital Archives pays tribute to the bleu, blanc et rouge with 14 remarkable moments in Habs history.
• In 1957, the team was purchased by Tom and Hartland Molson, two brothers who also owned the venerable Molson brewing company.
• The team changed hands in 1968, when another branch of the Molson family took over ownership.
• That group of Molsons sold the team to Peter and Edward Bronfman in 1971. The brothers were first cousins of Charles Bronfman, then owner of the Montreal Expos.
• The Bronfmans were one of Canada's wealthiest families. Patriarch Samuel Bronfman founded Seagram's distillers and prospered during the Prohibition era in the United States.
• During the seven years the Bronfmans owned the Canadiens, the team won the Stanley Cup four times.
• When they sold the team to Molson Breweries, Peter Bronfman said he and his brother hadn't been looking for a buyer, "but when approached... we decided to accept the attractive offer of Molson's."
• For Molson, ownership of the team may have been a strategic way to sell more suds. "In Canada sports are an effective means of selling beer, and if the various governments push through plans to ban or restrict television advertising of beer, ownership of sports clubs may become more important to breweries than television sponsorship of games." - Globe and Mail, Aug. 5, 1978
• On the day they announced the sale, the brothers said they had chosen Molson over Labatt simply because it was a better deal. They received $20 million cash for the team.
• According to the Globe and Mail, Labatt had offered the Bronfmans $23 million. But for that price, the brewery also wanted ownership of the Forum, the Canadiens' home arena. Molson was satisfied with a long-term lease on the building.
• In 2000, Molson Inc. put the Montreal Canadiens up for bids, but after eight months, no Canadian buyer had come forward. The team was sold in early 2001 to George Gillett Jr., a Colorado ski-resort mogul who paid $183 million US for 80 per cent of the team. Molson retained the other 20 per cent. Gillett also got the Molson Centre in the deal.
Also on August 4:
• 1914: Canada automatically enters the First World War when Britain declares war on Germany. Two weeks later, Canada formally declares war on Germany and Austria-Hungary.
• 1952: Uranium City, Sask. opens to prospectors. Two years later, the local paper reports that 52 mines are operating, with the bulk of the residents living in tents.
• 1998: British Columbia's Nisga'a Nation signs a historic treaty with the provincial and federal governments. It gives resource rights in a 2,000 square kilometre area, a cash settlement and a system of self-government.
Program: CBC News
Broadcast Date: Aug. 4, 1978
Guests: Peter Bronfman, Morgan McCammon
Reporter: Sheila MacVicar
Hockey footage: National Hockey League
Last updated: March 10, 2014
Page consulted on March 10, 2014
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