MONTREAL — The sale of the Montreal Canadiens was approved Tuesday, days before the storied team's 100th anniversary.

The Molson family won approval from
the NHL board of governors, becoming the fourth group of Molsons to own
the club since the 1950s. George Gillett put the team up for sale in
the spring.

Geoff Molson and brothers Andrew and
Justin are the lead investors in a group that reportedly paid $575
million for the franchise.

"This is a proud moment for my family
and our partners in the transaction," said Geoff Molson, who will be
the chairman and chief executive officer. "As owners, we will be right
there with management and the team, building and battling toward our
next Stanley Cup."

The Canadiens celebrate their 100th anniversary Friday when they host the Boston Bruins.

The sale includes the team, the arena
and Gillett Entertainment Group, a concert promotion company. The
Molson group also bought the 19.9 percent held by the Molson-Coors
brewery, which will remain a sponsor.

When the Molson company put the team
up for sale eight years ago, no local buyer was willing to risk what
was deemed a steep price for a team that paid most of its expenses in
U.S. dollars but took in what were then weak Canadian dollars at the
gate.

The ownership group includes Bell,
Canada's largest communications company, and the Woodbridge Company,
owned by the Thomson family, which controls Thomson Reuters. Both have
large stakes in CTVglobemedia (Bell 15 percent, Woodbridge 40 percent),
whose television holdings include TSN and its French-language cousin
RDS, which broadcasts Canadiens games.

Others in the group are the Quebec
Labour Federation solidarity fund; Michael Andlauer, a French-born,
Montreal-raised businessman who owns the Canadiens top farm team the
Hamilton Bulldogs; and Luc Bertrand, former head of the Montreal Stock
Exchange. Two-thirds of the partnership is based in Quebec.

The National Bank Financial Group is
a participant and is leading the banking syndicate, which includes the
Desjardins Group and Scotiabank.