December 2, 2009 / 1:01 AM / in 8 years

Sale of Canadiens to Molson family approved by NHL

MONTREAL (Reuters) - The NHL has approved the sale of the Montreal Canadiens to a group headed by the Molson brothers, the league said on Tuesday.

Geoff Molson and his brothers Andrew and Justin agreed to purchase the franchise in June from American George Gillett in a deal reported to be worth close to $575 million.

The sale also includes the Bell Center arena and Gillett’s concert promoting company Gillett Entertainment Group.

“I would like to thank the NHL governors for their support and I would also like to thank all those who have contributed to the success of this transaction,” Geoff Molson said on

”This is a proud moment for my family and our partners in the transaction.

“As owners, we will be right there with management and the team, building and battling toward our next Stanley Cup.”

The Molson family has a long history with the Canadiens having owned the team in its glory years from 1957 to 1971.

Completion of the sale comes on the same day that a survey revealed nearly half of all Canadians considered the team, who have won a record 24 Stanley Cups, the best of all-time.

Forbes magazine valued the Canadiens at $339 million, behind only the Toronto Maple Leafs ($470 million) and the New York Rangers ($416 million).

The Canadiens will officially celebrate their 100th anniversary on Friday when they host the Boston Bruins.

Writing by Steve Keating in Calgary; editing by Greg Stutchbury

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