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NHL Approves Sale of Canadiens

June 19, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) _ The sale of the Montreal Canadiens to a Colorado businessman was unanimously approved Tuesday by the NHL’s Board of Governors, with the condition that the team not be moved.

George Gillett Jr., bought an 80 percent controlling interest in the Canadiens and 100 percent of the Molson Centre for $178.3 million. Molson retains a 20 percent interest in the Canadiens.

A Wisconsin native who does not speak French, Gillett has said repeatedly that he has no plans to shift the franchise elsewhere.

Gillett, 62, is a former minority owner of the Miami Dolphins and the Harlem Globetrotters. He failed in a bid last year to purchase another NHL team, the Colorado Avalanche.

Gillett struck the deal in late January, but it wasn’t until Tuesday’s 30-0 vote that the sale became official.

``It was a six-month process and we move on,″ Canadiens president Pierre Boivin said. ``There’s nothing like closure in any transaction. It takes away any uncertainty or any doubt that may have remained.″

Added NHL commissioner Gary Bettman: ``It was a complicated transaction, but we worked our way through it and everyone is comfortable. Sometimes these transactions take awhile.″

The Canadiens failed to make the playoffs for the third straight year, the first time that has happened since 1920-22.

Boivin said last year’s player budget of $36 million to $37 million will remain about the same for next season.

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