A group led by Canadian businessman Michael Andlauer has reached an agreement to buy the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.
The team announced Tuesday that Andlauer and his group will purchase 90% of the club from the Melnyk family. The deal is reportedly worth nearly $1 billion, which is "give or take" what Commissioner Gary Bettman expected the team in Canada's capital to sell for.
"Michael represents everything we could have hoped to find coming into this process — a passionate owner who is committed to Ottawa," Senators chairman and governor Sheldon Plener said in a statement announcing the sale. "We believe it is a momentous day for the National Capital Region."
Anna and Olivia Melnyk, daughters of late former owner Eugene Melnyk, will retain 10% interest. Melnyk died of an undisclosed illness in March 2022 at age 62.
Andlauer, 57, is the founder and CEO of a health care group with transportation options for that sector and started a private equity company based in Toronto. He owned the American Hockey League's Hamilton Bulldogs from 2004-2015, then purchased the Ontario Hockey League's Belleville Bulls and moved them to Hamilton.
He has been alternate governor for the rival Montreal Canadiens since purchasing a share of the storied franchise in 2009. Andlauer must sell his interest in the Canadiens before his purchase of the Senators is complete, a process that also includes being approved by the NHL's Board of Governors.
"I believe that the Senators’ fanbase is one of the most passionate in the league, and I’m excited to take the franchise’s success both on and off the ice to the next level," Andlauer said. "The short and long-term future of the team is incredibly bright, and I look forward to getting to know the team, the fanbase and the community."
Forbes values the Senators at $800 million, 24th out of the NHL’s 30 teams.
"I’ve always felt that we’ve been undervalued, so this, to me, is just an affirmation that our franchises are more valuable than Forbes or Sportico or many investment bankers have said," Bettman said recently. "While people focus on the revenue side, the system we have that gives every team an opportunity to compete is something that we don’t think, historically, we’ve been given enough credit for on the value proposition.
"Our competitive balance is extraordinary, and that should somehow be equating to higher values. I think you’re beginning to see that."
The Senators sale garnered plenty of interest, including competing bids from the likes of movie star Ryan Reynolds, Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd and rapper Snoop Dogg.
The team instead went to Andlauer and minority owners, who will now be tasked with finding a downtown site for a new arena to replace the suburban rink that has been the Senators' home since 1996.