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Ooops. NHL gets caught in beer deal snafu

on 05/06/11 at 10:56 am

Booze News

It was the fifth paragraph of Gary Bettman’s traditional state-of-the-game speech at the Stanley Cup final, and it was delivered in upbeat, triumphant tones.

“The strength of our game on the business side,” said Bettman, “could be best illustrated by our reaching the largest sponsorship deal in our history, the Miller-Coors-Molson deal, and the largest, most comprehensive (television) deal in our history with NBC Universal Comcast.”

The TV deal, maybe — particularly after Game 1 between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins delivered very positive numbers in the U.S., particularly Boston.

But the beer deal? Not so fast.

Just two days after making those comments, words that went by without question given that the day’s big news was Colin Campbell’s shift out of the league’s disciplinary role, Bettman had to have been stunned to learn of an Ontario court ruling that effectively struck down the $375 million Molson-Coors deal.

Why? Well, as reported in the Saturday Star by Josh Rubin, because Ontario judge Frank Newbould ruled that the Canadian rights included in the Molson-Coors package had already been sold to Labatt.

Oops. Not the kind of business profile a league wants, essentially an allegation of double-dealing from a court.

{Full story via The Toronto Star}

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