As crunch time nears for those who would like to buy the most storied franchise in NHL history, it was inevitable that one or more would drop out.
It appears the first to do so is Serge Savard, the Hall of Fame defenceman and former general manager of the Montreal Canadiens - now commercial real estate entrepreneur - who had been lining up financing for a purchase.
Savard gave his reasons in this morning's editions of La Presse, and the main one is that he doesn't have the financial muscle to compete with a likely bid from the Molson family.
"We're ready (to make a bid) but the arrival of the Molsons has changed the paradigm . . . I'm on the sidelines now," he said, pointing out that he's known 38-year-old Geoffrey E. Molson, who is leading the family bid along with brothers Justin and Andrew, since the days when he came to skate with the team at the Canadiens Christmas party.
"Serge Savard is not going to fight against the Molsons, I figure I'm practically part of the family," the man known as The Senator added.
Telecom giant BCE - which has a stake in CTV, RDS, TSN and the Globe and Mail - had been rumoured to be interested in backing Savard's bid, but as the Globe reported this morning in the good old-fashioned paper edition, all signs now point to the company supporting the Molsons.
Though he hasn't closed the door definitively to bidding for the team, Savard said he will only step forward as a last resort if the Molsons or another local bidder suddenly decides to withdraw.
Savard also admitted he just doesn't feel he has the financial muscle to rival the Molsons, and praised their efforts to recapture the team that was first bought by the family in 1957 (the Molson Coors brewing empire still owns 19.9 per cent).
"They're a logical choice, they're there for all the right reasons. They're in it for the hockey, not content or whatever," Savard told the paper in an apparent reference to Quebecor, Videotron and Sun Media magnate Pierre Karl Péladeau, who is heading another consortium interested in buying the team.
It's expected the bids will be finalized by mid-month, at which point majority owner George Gillett will make a final decision on whether to sell the team - which now seems a foregone conclusion.
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