Eugene Melnyk’s purchase of Belleville Senators approved by AHL

The owner of the Ottawa Senators officially received the green light to buy an affiliate of the NHL team and move it from New York state to Belleville next year.

 

On Thursday, the American Hockey League said in a statement that its board of directors approved the sale of the franchise, which will open its 15th and final season in Binghamton, N.Y., on Saturday, from B.C. Senators Inc. to a company owned by Mr. Melnyk.

 

The move brings the NHL team’s younger prospects closer to the parent club, without an international border to cross.

Some commentators have also pointed that there are marketing considerations at play. Last month, Ottawa Sun sportswriter Bruce Garrioch argued that the move will expand the Ottawa Senators’ brand farther west, closer to what is traditionally the territory of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Senators have already started to market the new home of their affiliate club through promotional videos played during Wednesday’s season opener at the Canadian Tire Centre.

Mr. Melnyk, who made his fortune in the pharmaceutical industry and founded companies including Biovail, purchased the Ottawa Senators and its arena – then known as the Corel Centre – out of bankruptcy protection in 2003.

Over the last decade, he’s publicly sparred with municipal officials in his bid to add additional sports and entertainment developments around the Canadian Tire Centre, including a casino and, previously, a soccer pitch.

In 2013, Mr. Melnyk said he was sour on continuing his investments in Ottawa.

Earlier this year, however, a group led by Mr. Melnyk was awarded the rights to redevelop LeBreton Flats and build a new NHL arena in central Ottawa.