Buyers will own piece of Leafs, Habs

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Wandering around in the nosebleed sections of the Bell Centre this past season was an imaginative fan who attended a Habs-Maple Leafs game wearing a jersey that was split right down the middle.

The left half was a red Canadiens sweater, the other half a blue Maple Leafs jersey.

Maybe the guy knew something, considering that there might be a cross-ownership issue involving the two teams if the sale of the Habs to the Molson family is approved.

"It's no big deal. It's just a (minor) thing," one Leafs executive said. "Cross ownership is allowed in the NHL."

The other three major sports leagues -- the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball -- prohibit ownership stakes in more than one team, no matter how small that interest.

In fact, the NFL once denied its owners the ability to even own franchises in other leagues, although those rules have been relaxed.

Baseball and the NBA allow owners like Chicago's Jerry Reinsdorf to control franchises in various leagues. Reinsdorf already owns the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Bulls and may soon own the Phoenix Coyotes.

The CFL, on the other hand, is a more muddled situation.

It recently became public that B.C. Lions owner David Braley extended a loan, reportedly worth $2 million, to David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski six years ago when the two successful businessmen bought the Toronto Argonauts. For their part, the Argos owners deny Braley had anything to do with the ownership or the running of the Toronto franchise.

CLOSER TIES

In their quest for the Habs, the Molson brothers want to help pay for the purchase of the team by stoking up their business relationships with the team's existing partners like the BCE Group and RDS, a division of CTVglobemedia.

CTVglobemedia owns a minority stake in Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Ltd., the parent company of the Leafs. BCE also is a minority investor in CTVglobemedia.

On another front, it will be interesting to see if the league appeals an Ontario Superior Court finding Tuesday that suggested the league has underfunded its players' pension plans by up to $30 million, with some widows receiving as little as 10% of the funds entitled to them.

Many NHL governors attending yesterday's board meeting were unaware of the court's findings.

"I don't know all the details, so it's a tough thing to comment on," Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said.


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