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Montreal Canadiens Dominic Moore (C) celebrates his goal with Benoit Pouliot and Maxim Lapierre during the third period of play against the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final hockey series in Washington, April 28, 2010.


To: Geoff Molson, chairman, Montreal Canadiens Hockey Club

From: Streetwise

We just stopped watching highlights of that beat-down on the Capitals - Dominic Moore will never need to pay for an Export in a Montreal bar - and started crunching numbers.

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We thought we'd pass on what the Canadiens' upset last night means to you and the rest of the owners. You're going to like this.

Let's flash back for just a moment. You & your brothers dropped $575-million on this team and the Bell Centre last summer. That would be the same Habs team Molson Breweries sold for $275-million back in 2001. There was some head-scratching over that trade. We knew the last owner picked all the low-hanging fruit.

No one is scratching now. We're too busy mocking Ovie. And trying to score tickets for the Penguins series.

Here's a stab at what the Canadiens make from going deep into the playoffs.

Start with ticket revenues. Prices get boosted for each round of the playoffs, so while it's possible to get into the Forum, sorry, the Bell Centre, for as little as $54 next week, most fans will drop $250 or more.

Well-founded estimates from the New York Times show the New York Rangers' per-game ticket revenues jumps to $2-million pre game in the playoffs, from $1.5-million in the regular season. The Habs would be in the same neighbourhood.

So three home games against the Capitals meant an extra $6-million on the top line. The Habs stand to do the same against this the Penguins and this Sid Crobsy fellow - apparently he's pretty good. Roughly half that revenue must goes to the NHL, plus there's a small fee to the league to cover the expense of producing the playoffs, but there's still all sorts of extra cash coming in.

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(If you've got extra ringside seats, you may want to consider engaging with the free market. Someone on Stub Hub is asking $3,500 this morning for a Canadiens ticket with a $372 face value.)

Then there's the gravy that comes from feeding fans poutine. Each patrons drop an average of $18 to $26 on Molson beverages and other treats at a game, according to stadium consulting types. Half that concession revenue falls to the bottom line, so you're looking at $250,000 a game in additional Bell Centre profit.

Sales of Jaroslav Halak jerseys - they end up in closest next to the Roy and Dryden sweaters - are also going to mean more revenue. Regular season merchandise sales inside the arena are estimated to average $5 per fan per game, but that will rise as playoff fever spreads.

Then there's the joy of collecting unexpected broadcast and advertising revenue. Not all of this goes to you as Habs owners - it is scooped up by networks that aren't in your orbit, as CBC or NBC will show games against the Penguins.

But sports network RDS backed your $575-million takeover by tapping the vault at Thomson family holding company Woodbridge, which owns the TV network through its control stake in RDS' parent, CTVglobemedia. Just about every eyeball in Quebec is watching hockey. That means premium fees for advertising. And much joy at RDS.

Montreal-based advertisers such as Bell and National Bank aren't going to squeal higher rates on their TV spots - they're also part of your ownership group. And your employer, Molson Coors Brewing Co., doesn't look quite so smart for unloading its stake in the team to your family at the start of the season.

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On the cost side, you paid the bulk of player salaries in the regular season, so the single biggest expense that comes with running a pro sports team is gone. The same goes for the cost of running the Bell Centre - the building would likely have been empty if the Penguins weren't dropping by.

Add it all up, and each additional game in the playoffs must be adding at least $2-million to the Habs' profits, minimum, with even more money flowwing to partners such as RDS. You should be smiling this morning, Mr. Molson. And somewhere, Pierre Karl Peladeau is once again cursing the fact this opportunity got past him.

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About the Author
Business Columnist

Andrew Willis is a business columnist for the Report on Business at The Globe and Mail, based in Toronto.He has been in business communications and journalism for three decades. More

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