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Labatt goes to bat for NHL sponsorship deal

Labatt dropped the mitts yesterday in its dispute with the National Hockey League and archrival Molson Coors, saying the league negotiated in bad faith during talks on a new sponsorship deal.

Labatt dropped the mitts yesterday in its dispute with the National Hockey League and archrival Molson Coors, saying the league negotiated in bad faith during talks on a new sponsorship deal.

In a notice of application filed at the Ontario Superior Court, Labatt asked the court to toss out the league’s new $375-million sponsorship agreement with Molson Coors. Labatt claims it reached a deal to renew its Canadian sponsorship with the NHL in November, but the league then signed a North America-wide contract with Molson Coors instead.

“The NHL … in bad faith and in breach of their contractual obligations, went behind Labatt’s back to negotiate an agreement with the Molson Coors respondents for the rights Labatt has held for almost 13 years,” Labatt alleges in its filing. The filing names four arms of the NHL, as well as Molson Coors Canada and MillerCoors. (MillerCoors is a U.S. joint venture of Molson Coors and SAB Miller.)

Labatt also said its agreement with the NHL was so solid that the league told other, unspecified third parties about it before it signed with Molson Coors. None of Labatt’s allegations have been proven in court.

Labatt has been the league’s Canadian sponsor since 1998. Each renewal of its agreement gave Labatt an exclusive window to negotiate a new deal before existing ones expired, according to the court filing.

Neither Molson Coors nor the NHL would comment on the allegations.

 
 
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