It’s been a long time coming – over seven months to be exact – but the Ottawa Senators officially confirmed today they have a new owner. He is Toronto billionaire Michael Andlauer, the owner of the OHL’s Brantford Bulldogs and part-owner of the Montreal Canadiens.
News Release: Senators Sports & Entertainment announces that Michael Andlauer has entered into an agreement to purchase the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club: https://t.co/SsvqkXUipK pic.twitter.com/XrIkECwHkv
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) June 13, 2023
It’s believed that Andlauer’s group won with a bid of $950 million. It’s not known yet if that includes the payment of Anna and Olivia Melnyk’s capital gains taxes from the sale, a demand that was apparently made of Steve Apostolopoulos, one of the other bidders in the process.
While Andlauer reportedly has controlling interest in the franchise, he’s certainly not alone in this very expensive NHL venture. Andlauer has partnered with Farm Boy’s Jeff York, the brother of former Ottawa Senator Jason York, along with Claridge Homes and the Malhotra family. And of course, Anna and Olivia Melnyk will be retaining a 10% share in the team their father left for them.
The sale of the franchise comes 20 years after Eugene Melnyk purchased the team as it teetered on the verge of bankruptcy. At that time, Melnyk was the only serious bidder. This time around, there were said to be around a dozen interested groups, some with celebrity clout like Ryan Reynolds, Snoop Dogg and The Weeknd.
Andlauer headed up the one group that never bothered with the star factor. But with his deep NHL connections, his experience in running hockey teams and his lifelong passion for the game his was the bid that always made the most sense.
“My family and I are very excited to be a part of the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club,” Andlauer said in a club-issued statement. “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.
“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.
“First and foremost, thank you to my wife and family for their support. Thank you to both the NHL and the Melnyk family for providing me with the opportunity to make this dream a reality. Thank you also to my equity partners on the transaction, who like me are committed to bringing success to the National Capital Region. I would also like to thank my financial advisors at Bulldog Capital Partners.”
Andlauer grew up in Montreal as a ravenous Habs fan and has played beer league hockey most all of his life. One of the first things he will need to do is sell off his part ownership in the Canadiens.
Historically, Andlauer has moved his hockey teams to new cities twice in his career. In 2015, he sold the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs to the Montreal Canadiens so the team could be moved to St. John’s. He also purchased the OHL’s Belleville Bulls in order to replace the team leaving Hamilton. So the Bulldogs were back, but reincarnated as an OHL club. This fall, the Bulldogs will leave Hamilton and move to Brantford for a few seasons, possibly for good.
But Senators fans needn’t worry about a relocation. The Melnyks have said all along that a condition of the deal was that the franchise remain in Ottawa.
There has already been speculation that Andlauer may consider bringing in hockey people he knows well like Steve Staios, who won two OHL titles with Andlauer as his president and GM. Or Patrick Roy who coincidentally retired today as head coach of the Memorial Cup champion Quebec Remparts. But with a sale to finalize, Andlauer will have bigger things to worry about for the next few weeks or maybe even months.
In the meantime, a new NHL chapter has begun in Ottawa and Sens fans are here for it.