The incredible depths of the global recession didn't really hit home until we read two things: Lil' Wayne's manager encouraging everyone to load up on gold Krugerrands in the latest Rolling Stone, and rumors that gajillionaire George Gillett is considering selling all or part of his stake in the Montreal Canadiens.
Potential bidders have been going through the team's books for several weeks as part of due diligence procedures that could eventually lead to a deal to sell all or part of the team, the paper said, citing sources. Radio-Canada, citing unnamed corporate sources, said several groups had signed confidentiality agreements with the Bank of Montreal's investment banking arm, according to the paper.
The top sports headlines of the day
Darren Dreger of TSN writes that "a high-ranking source says that there is no clear indication that Gillett has any intention of officially putting this team up for sale, or selling off the Montreal Canadiens." But that hasn't stopped a field of potential buyers from quickly forming in the rumor mill, all of whom have benefits and drawbacks to their candidacies.
Based on their behavior this year, there’s really only one logical group of potential owners: The players, who obviously think they’re bigger than the team anyway. But the asking price could be $335 million; so that’s a lot of purses Ryan O’Byrne still has to steal.
Who: Serge Savard, former Canadiens general manager.
Rumored Interest: He's been candid about the fact that the real estate firm with which he is associated would be in line to buy the team.
Immediate Impact: Would be universally embraced by Habs fans, who seems to enjoy things like winning the Stanley Cup, which used to happen a lot when Savard was part of the organization. Plus, all he'll need to do is take the elevator down from the owner's box for whatever self-congratulatory nostalgia orgy the Canadiens decide to have on the ice before a game every other night.
Potential Drawback: First edict as Montreal owner? Anyone who references Denis as the inventor of the "Savard spin-o-rama" is to be shot on sight.
• • •
Who: Quebecor Media/News of Quebecor, Quebec's largest media organization that owns television, print and Web-based content providers.
Rumored Interest: Confirmed in Journal de Montreal in a column Wednesday, which is owned by Quebecor ... so if the information isn't solid, it will simply lead to more self-loathing in Quebec.
Immediate Impact: Seeing as how Quebecor owns the TVA television network and the Videotron cable company, and the Habs are currently in a contract with RDS and CTV Globemedia, probably something having to do with television. Just a guess.
Potential Drawback: Uh, if you thought the Habs were completely inescapable in the media before, you ain't seen nothing yet.
• • •
Who: Guy Laliberté, founder and chief executive officer of Cirque du Soleil.
Rumored Interest: Rumored to have signed a confidentiality agreement with the Bank of Montreal's investment banking arm to examine the Canadiens' books.
Immediate Impact: Would immediately rival the Tampa Bay Lightning as the NHL's preeminent circus ownership; and nothing changes the dynamics in a player arbitration case faster than when an owner can jump on a pair of stilts and swallow fire while playing the accordion.
Potential Drawback: The 2008-09 Canadiens are already a pretentious collection of clowns that offer three hours of tedium, so no big changes there. But expect to see a lot more of this kind of thing between periods. Ladies ...
• • •
Who: René Angélil, head of a management company and husband of pop star Celine Dion.
Rumored Interest: Mentioned by the CBC has an "interested group" in the sale of the Habs.
Immediate Impact: National anthems quickly stretched by 27 minutes, increased by several thousand decibels.
• • •
That's just a select few of the potential buyers for the Canadiens, as according to CTV the rumored suitors also include billionaire Stephen Bronfman of Claridge Investments Inc.; Joey Saputo, son of cheese magnate Lino Saputo (imagine the concession stand potential there); the Molson family; The ALDO Group; Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec; Roustan Capital and Spectrum Equity.
This is all very well and good ... but where are the really exciting names?
Where's Mark Cuban, buying the team and then redesigning the uniforms to look better in High-Def? Where's Donald Trump, purchasing the Canadiens and then finding Bob Gainey's successor on the next season of "The Apprentice?" And where the heck is Jim Ballsillie, so everyone can have a coronary about the Hamilton Habs coming to fruition?
C'mon, crazy rich guys ... give us something to work with here!