Why is this man smiling?

Sports Media Canada, the national organization that this year honours The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs for his sportswriting, has named George N. Gillett Jr. Sports Executive of the Year.

Gillett bought the Montreal Canadiens Hockey Club and the Bell Centre in 2001. Among his other sports interests are ownership of the NASCAR team, Gillett Evernham Motorsports (GEM) and a 50% share of the Liverpool English Premier League Football Club. 

Sports Media Canada is the Canadian chapter of A.I.P.S. A.I.P.S. is the Association Internationale de la Presse Sportive and has chapters in 130 countries, one of which is Canada.

George Gillett’s official bio, from the Canadiens’ web site:

George N. Gillett, Jr., acquired the Montreal Canadiens Hockey Club and the Bell Centre in 2001. He is a member of the National Hockey League (NHL) Board of Governors and owner of the Gillett Entertainment Group (GEG), which produces and promotes concerts and events at the Bell Centre.

Mr. Gillett is founder and chairman of Booth Creek Management Corporation (BCMC), which oversees the Gillett family interests in diverse businesses including organic foods, automotive dealerships and professional sports teams. His other sports interests include ownership of Gillett Evernham Motorsports NASCAR team (GEM), which he acquired in August 2007, and 50-percent ownership in the Liverpool English Premier League Football Club.

A sports enthusiast since childhood, by the mid-1960s Mr. Gillett was business manager and minority partner of professional football’s Miami Dolphins. A year later, he became an owner and CEO of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters. He also established Globetrotter Communications, a national broadcasting group that launched a Saturday morning cartoon show featuring the Globetrotters.

Mr. Gillett is a past Chairman of the Board of the Denver Grand Prix Foundation, a member of the Leadership Council of the United States Olympic Committee, and a former director of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. He is a member of the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and was selected as an Honorary Member of the 2004-05 Canadian Alpine Ski Team.

Mr. Gillett formed BCMC in 1994. The company’s current holdings include Coleman Natural Foods, the leading producer and supplier of a full line of natural and organic protein products; Wheat Montana Farms & Bakery, a producer of certified “Chemical Free” wheat and other grains for use such as bread, flour and cereal and operator of a line of natural delicatessens; WorldCast Holdings, the owner of a fly fishing outfitter based in Idaho; and Vista Automotive car dealerships in Silverthorne and Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

George Gillett’s community involvement includes service as a member of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committees of both the Vail Valley Foundation and the Steadman Hawkins Research Foundation. Mr. Gillett was a judge for Ernst & Young’s 2004-2006 Entrepreneur of the Year Competition in the Media and Entertainment Division and is a board member of Canadian Helicopter Corporation (CHC).

Mr. Gillett attended Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts and graduated from Dominican College in Racine, Wisconsin in 1961. He began his career in marketing and management consulting with McKinsey & Company.

George and his wife Rose reside in Vail, Colorado. They have four sons and four grandchildren.

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Why is this man smiling?

George Gillett got a bargain when he bought the Canadiens, writes Gazette Sports Editor Stu Cowan.

The 2004-05 lockout might have been the best thing that ever happened to Gillett. After going a year without NHL hockey, Montreal fans were desperate for a fix, and the 21,273-seat Bell Centre has been sold out for every game since the beginning of the 2005-06 season.

And while some fans might complain about high prices at the Bell Centre, 21,273 keep buying tickets despite the fact every game is available on high-definition TV on RDS, which drew an incredible 587,000 viewers for last Tuesday’s exhibition game against the Buffalo Sabres in Roberval. And the first exhibition game at the Bell Centre on Friday night against the Ottawa Senators was sold out, with fans paying full regular-season prices. It’s called supply and demand.

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