Molson subsidiary Molstar Sports & Entertainment spent nine months in negotiations and bid more than $216m for a five-year deal to extend its rights beyond the 1997-98 season.
Molstar president Brent Scrimshaw called the deal "the best possible offer. . . based on the performance of the NHL brand of hockey in the market."
Hockey coverage under the title of Molson Hockey Night in Canada, broadcast on national television, has been one of the brewer's major marketing initiatives since it acquired the NHL rights in 1985.
"At the end of the day, the NHL sought greater control over production, advertising and promotion," says Scrimshaw.
Discussions between the NHL and Canadian broadcasters are now underway, but that doesn't mean the end of Molson's longtime involvement with hockey, one of Canada's most popular spectator sports.
Molson will continue to be "intrinsically tied" to hockey, Scrimshaw promises, and the brewer expects to start talks soon with the league about an exclusive sponsorship deal.
Copyright August 1997, Crain Communications Inc.