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Molson buys Montreal Canadiens

The Story

Call them the Molson Canadiens. The storied Montreal hockey team has new owners - again - when Peter and Edward Bronfman sell the Canadiens to Molson breweries for $20 million. After seven profitable years, the Bronfmans said they had done all they could for the team. Molson wasn't the only beer company chasing the team, the CBC reports. The deal comes just two days after the public learned that the Canadiens had also been talking to rival brewers Labatt.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC News
Broadcast Date: Aug. 4, 1978
Guests: Peter Bronfman, Morgan McCammon
Reporter: Sheila MacVicar
Duration: 1:42
Hockey footage: National Hockey League

Did You know?

• The Montreal Canadiens first played in 1910 and in 1917 were one of five teams that founded the National Hockey League.
• 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.


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