Canadiens announce staff cuts; Devils and 76ers rescind layoffs

The franchises are coping with lost revenue after the NHL and NBA suspended their seasons because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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A fan stands outside the Bell Centre, the home of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens.

A fan kneels outside the Bell Centre, the home of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP

The Montreal Canadiens are temporarily laying off 60% of employees while the National Hockey League season is suspended.

Groupe CH, which owns hockey’s most storied club, says the layoffs go into effect March 30. Groupe CH also is establishing a $6 million assistance fund that will enhance employment insurance to make sure employees receive 80% of their salary for the following eight weeks and be available for loans to employees.

“We are working extremely hard to limit the impact this situation will have on our employees,” owner Geoff Molson said.

Later Tuesday, the New Jersey Devils and NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers did an about-face on cutting salaries for employees making more than $100,000. A day after announcing the temporary 20% pay cuts because of the economics effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the teams’ co-owners rescinded them.

Co-owner Josh Harris says after listening to his staff and players, it’s clear that the pay cuts was the wrong decision.

“This is an extraordinary time in our world — unlike any most of us have ever lived through before — and ordinary business decisions are not enough to meet the moment. To our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong.”

The teams did not say whether they plan to maintain a four-day work week, which was part of the cuts. Employees benefits were never changed and the teams plan on keeping their 1,500 hourly workers paid throughout the regular season. The Devils and Sixers are owned by Harris and David Blitzer, who are the founders of Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment.

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