Ottawa Senators confirm team is up for sale, but must remain in the city


The Ottawa Senators confirmed Friday that they have initiated a process to sell the hockey club, with the one condition that the team remain in town.

“Galatioto Sports Partners has been retained as financial advisor and a process has been initiated for the sale of the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club,” said Sheldon Plener, chairman and governor of the Ottawa Senators, in a statement.

“This was a necessary and prudent step to connect with those deeply interested parties who can show us what their vision is for the future of the team,” Plener concluded, emphasizing that, “A condition of any sale will be that the team remains in Ottawa.”

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Galatioto Sports Partners is an industry-leading firm in the sports finance and advisory business.

On Tuesday, a U.S. sports publication, Sportico, reported that the Ottawa Senators had retained a financial services firm to explore a sale of the team.

Melnyk’s daughters, Anna and Olivia, took over the Senators after their father died in March. The team is now being run by its board of directors.

Sportico’s most recent valuations estimate the franchise’s worth at US$655 million, up more than 20 per cent over last year.

Still, the Senators could potentially fetch much more than that on the open market, if other recent sales of NHL clubs are any indication. The Pittsburgh Penguins sold for US$900 million last year, while the Nashville Predators are poised to change hands for US$775 million.

Speculation is that some big-name local business leaders could be among the bidders for the team.

For example, Roger Greenberg, the executive chairman of the Minto Group and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, told CTV News in April his family would likely be a part of a new ownership team if the Senators were sold.

This latest news comes after a group led by the Senators signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Capital Commission in June on a plan that could see a new arena built for the team at LeBreton Flats.

Capital Sports Development is proposing to build an NHL arena and events venue surrounded by mixed-use development, located on Albert Street between Preston Street and City Centre Avenue. 

The site was identified for a potential major facility in the 2021 LeBreton Flats Master Concept Plan, reflecting the feedback of more than 5,000 people who participated in public consultations. 

A Toronto native, Melnyk had owned the Senators since 2003 after purchasing the NHL club and the Canadian Tire Centre for US$130 million. He also was a former owner of the St. Michael’s Majors of the Ontario Hockey League.

Melnyk made his mark in business in the 1990s as the founder and former chairman of Biovail Corp., once Canada’s largest pharmaceutical company. He put in an offer for the Senators after Rod Bryden’s deal to reacquire the franchise was unsuccessful. 

While the team advanced to the Stanley Cup final in 2007, Melnyk’s relationship with the city began to sour in later years as the team floundered on the ice and at the box office. During the NHL 100 Classic celebrations in late 2017, the owner publicly mused about relocating the team, prompting disillusioned fans to launch a #MelnykOut campaign.

Two years later, Melynk’s bid to build a new arena at LeBreton Flats with John Ruddy’s Trinity Development Group fell apart amid legal wrangling between the partners.

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