Canadiens For Sale?

George Gillett, who owns Montreal’s Bell Center, its flagship team the Montreal Canadiens, Gillett Entertainment Group, Richard Petty Motorsports and the Liverpool FC soccer club, is reportedly considering hiving off his NHL team.

As for Gillett’s promotion company, which handles entertainment for the Bell Center, it’s “business as usual,” according to spokesman Michal Wielgus. However, Wielgus also provided Pollstar with a statement from Bell Center President Pierre Boivin that suggests things are in flux.

“The Gillett family has obtained the services of financial advisers in order to assess the various strategic alternatives to optimize the value of its corporate assets and, in Canada, the family has obtained the services of BMO Capital Markets and that the process is under way,” Boivin said.

The Colorado-based Gillett, who outright owns the Bell Center (aka Centre Bell), has an 80 percent stake in the NHL’s Canadiens, which are having a down year. As late as December, he angrily denied reports the hockey team was up for sale and there is reason for that: the Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups and Gillett has increased the team’s value since he bought a controlling interest from Molson in 2001. Some experts consider it recession proof.

“For him, maybe it’s his high point to sell the Canadiens,” Bruno Delorme, a sports management professor, told Bloomberg News. “He got a good deal when he bought them.”

Delorme told the Canadian Press that the arena is not only sold out every night but the memorabilia boutique has had to expand because of increased sales.

Gillett bought the Canadiens and their arena then called the Molson Centre for $275 million Canadian dollars with the help of $140 million in loans from two banks and the Quebec pension fund.