Hamilton Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer is also part owner of the Montreal Canadiens. How he got there is quite a story

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If the Montreal Canadiens do end up winning the Stanley Cup in the next few weeks, Michael Andlauer won’t just sip champagne from the huge mug, he will have his name engraved in silver on the large chalice.

If that happens, he may thank a torn labrum in his hip.

The story of how the longtime Burlington resident ended up becoming part-owner of the Habs begins around Easter 2009 at a Colorado medical clinic. Years of playing as a goalie in beer leagues had broken his hip and it was time for a repair. Four people were on the register for surgery that day. There was baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez, former Maple Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala, an Olympic figure skater and him.

The truth is, this band is essentially unrelated to our history, just a nice note. What is relevant is who held a stake in the clinic. It would be George Gillett, who at the time owned the Canadians.

The two men already knew each other quite well since Andlauer owned the Hamilton Bulldogs, the farm team for Gillett’s team in the NHL. So, after being stitched up, Andlauer and his wife had dinner with Gillett and his wife at their Vail home, where the conversation eventually turned to business.

Michael Andlauer, owner of the Hamilton Bulldogs.Hamilton Spectator archive photo

“I have to sell the golden gem,” Andlauer recalls being said with regret.

A few years earlier, Gillett had bought Liverpool FC, the English Premier League football club. The money was now needed and the Canadians had to be auctioned off. If Andlauer wanted to …

“Thanks for thinking of me,” Andlauer told him. “But pun intended, I’m in a different league.”

The 56-year-old has been very, very successful in business. His medical transport company delivers COVID-19 vaccines to Ontario. Even then, things were going well financially. he would have love buy the Habs and it seemed clear that Gillet was trying to catch his interest. But the price of half a billion dollars or more was beyond his reach.

Yet within a month, just about everyone considering buying the team had been in touch. They were all looking to form a group. Whether it was because he owned the farm team or – more likely Andlauer believes it – because Gillett recommended him, he was a wanted man.

It was astounding for him.

Growing up poor with his single mother in the Montreal suburb of Notre Dame de Grace, he was often hungry. He recounted how the breakfasts were puffed cereal bought in bulk bags with powdered milk and that there were times when the two stretched the lentil and pork tail soup for a week for the dinners. .

But he loved hockey. More particularly, he liked the Habs.

Michael Andlauer watches the <a class=Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final at his home with his wife Lucie, children Michael Jr. and Alexie, and dog Mocha.”/>
Michael Andlauer watches the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final at his home with his wife Lucie, children Michael Jr. and Alexie, and dog Mocha.Barry Gray / The Hamilton Spectator

He listened to all the matches on the radio. The television he was allowed to watch consisted of Montreal games on Saturday night. He had a paper route and took a few cents of his winnings to buy Hockey Digest so he could devour and memorize stats and player details.

One Christmas, his mother gave him the greatest gift of his life: a Canadiens jersey that he wore every day to play hockey in the park opposite.

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“I put the number 10 on the back of my jersey with white hockey tape,” says Andlauer.

The dream was not to play for the team. It was crazy. It wasn’t even to go to games. He went to the Forum once to watch the Canadiens play against the New York Rangers when a friend gave his mom tickets, but that was it. A simple meeting with Guy Lafleur – the man behind this number 10 – would suffice.

What if you own the team?

“No,” he said. “Not at all.”

Stupid question, really. The idea was ridiculous. Obviously unfathomable. Yet years later he was there with people asking him to do just that. Request him.

When Geoff Molson (of the Molson beer family) reached out, he finally decided to join us. The group’s bid for something in the “high $ 500” won.

Andlauer will not specify the exact amount or what its percentage of ownership is. It is a private company and it is not authorized to divulge this information, he said. But it’s important enough that he is the acting franchise governor.

The experience has been incredible. He now watches home games from his seats just behind the net (except during the playoffs where he’s watched from the owner’s box as his usual spot is covered). He will bring his mother to Game 3 when the finals return to Montreal. And yes, he met Guy Lafleur. Many times.

But, did he allow himself to imagine lifting the Stanley Cup? Drink it? Being in a truck driving the streets of Montreal during a massive championship parade?

“No,” he said.

He won an Ontario Hockey League championship and an American Hockey League title. He knows what victory looks like. And his team shocked everyone to advance to the final this year, taking him on an unforgettable ride. So why not?

Even for a guy who has made all his wacky dreams come true, how can you dream this big?

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