March 23, 2009 | 10:19am ET Gillett considering selling Canadiens
If the Montreal Canadiens didn't have enough distractions this season, they've certainly been hit a big one.
According to Montreal's La Presse, Canadiens owner George Gillett Jr. is considering the possibility of selling the team.
Habs president Pierre Boivin confirmed to the paper that Gillett has hired BMO Capital Markets "to evaluate all possible options surrounding the Gillett family's properties," including the Canadiens.
"We're crossing a very difficult economic period," Boivin told La Presse. "The banks are reluctant to finance even very strong projects."
Boivin added that the new advisor group will help the Gillett family maximize its stronger assets and assist in restructuring its financial strategies.
As Gillett weighs his business options, it doesn't mean he will necessarily sell the Canadiens.
"The Gillett family has obtained the services of four separate financing companies in Europe, the United States and Canada to establish its options," Boivin said. "We're talking about a very wide range of businesses and ones that are very strong companies. There is the Liverpool soccer club, [a] NASCAR [racing team], the Canadiens and the Bell Centre, but there are also businesses in the food sector, golf courses, and ski resorts."
In October, Forbes Magazine ranked the Canadiens as the NHL's third most valuable franchise, worth an estimated $334 million.
From the Editor: Habs fans shouldn't be too scared or concerned here. The Canadiens aren't the only team he's considering selling, as Boivin indicated. The Gillett family owns a boat load of sports franchises and overall properties. He's doing what any responsible business man would do under these difficult times. He's got to bite the bullet and sell one of two of his operations. Or, that's what it sounds like. At the end of the day, his financial advisors might tell him he's better off holding the fort, for now, and sticking with what he's got. Funny, though, that with the Habs a point from being out of the playoffs, this story comes out. Great timing, Boivin. -- David Pagnotta.