In 2001, George Gillett Jr. paid a total of US$250 million ($140 million of it in the form of a sweetheart loan from the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec) to buy 100 per cent of what was then the Molson Centre and 80.1 per cent of the team. In 2009, Gillett flipped the club, selling it to Groupe CH led by the Molson family for $575 million. By 2014, Forbes valued the Canadiens at a cool $1 billion for the hockey club alone.
In a 13-year period, roughly the span of a long career for a player, the value of the Canadiens franchise had increased by $815 million and it kept going up. By the end of 2019, Forbes valued the Habs at $1.35 billion.
Even Bettman’s pets, the low-rent Arizona Coyotes, were worth $300 million in 2019, a value they could double overnight simply by relocating to Quebec City, where a beautiful new arena is ready and waiting.
In the past decade, the owners have also pocketed a double windfall from expansion fees, with the Golden Knights ponying up $500 million and the Seattle Kraken $650 million for membership in the club.
Yes, the owners might have to endure a few months without fans in the stands. It beats slinging What’s-It burgers for $10 an hour.
Sorry, NHL. Your timing sucks. Ditto the demands you’re making on the players. These are tough times for everyone but you. Pull up your socks, quit whining and let’s have a hockey season.
The Impact, we hardly knew ye: Away from home, winning only now and then, the Impact were barely more than a distant rumour this season.