Ottawa Senators Officially Up for Sale—What’s Next?

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After the death of Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk only seven months ago, Senators fans knew they were in store for major changes. In early November, only a month after the 2022-23 season started, the current chairman announced that the team’s remaining board had contacted a financial advisor with plans to sell the team.

At first, many local sports fans braced for the possibility of losing their NHL team. After all, North American professional sports teams aren’t tied to a city like many leagues around the world. This means they can be bought and sold to new markets—but for NHL fans in Canada, the idea of losing a professional hockey team is alarming.

The Senators are an ingrained part of local culture—but the fact that the team is now worth over half a billion dollars (up to $525 million last December, according to Forbes) means some are still braced for the possibility of a move. So, what does the future hold for the Senators? And how did the team get to the point of sale in the first place?

Senators’ Odds Lengthening with Sportsbooks

As of November 7, 2022, the Ottawa Senators are sitting last in the Atlantic Division, three points behind the Montreal Canadiens. At the moment, NHL odds favour the Boston Bruins to take the division before heading into the playoffs with +900 odds to win the Stanley Cup. The Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t far behind, with odds of +1200 and +1100, respectively.

But with only one month into play, there’s still time for the Senators to shake up the division—or at least find a more comfortable position in the middle of the pack. However, many are now more concerned with what’s happening off the rink and in the boardroom as the team’s sale has been announced. After all, the Senators’ have failed to advance to the playoffs for five straight seasons.

A struggle on the ice is nothing new for local fans—along with the perennial issue of breathing life into the Canadian Tire Centre and downtown Ottawa. Luckily for Ottawans, there’s one huge term attached to the team’s sale: it must stay in Ottawa.

Clause #1: Staying in Canada

Since Melnyk’s passing, his daughters have taken control of the club, managing its future along with other board members. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the team’s future, it seems that management has a clear idea of what it wants to see: buyers who are interested in keeping the team in Ottawa and helping redevelop the downtown area.

So far, the Senators have shown interest in bidding on a site called LeBreton Flats in downtown Ottawa, which could be bundled with the team as a sales package for future development. This would be a massive coup for the team, which has largely seen stalled development since joining the league as an expansion team in 1992.

Ryan Reynolds, Roger Greenberg, & More Get in Line

Along with pouring resources into a redevelopment of the Senators’ home arena and the areas surrounding the arena, new potential owners will also need to pay close attention to the team’s lineup. As mentioned above, sportsbooks don’t encourage the team to advance to playoffs for a sixth straight year. However, the team did make some strong moves during the off-season and is building a stronger lineup.

GM Pierre Dorion made key acquisitions—markedly with Claude Giroux signing a three-year deal. But Dorion and Giroux aren’t the only Canadians fans are eyeing. Prior to the official announcement of the Senators’ sale, rumours were already swirling about potential owners.

Ryan Reynolds is one of the flashiest names on the list, who may want to add the Senators NHL team to his list of franchises alongside Wrexham FC. Meanwhile, the owner of the Ottawa 67’s and RedBlacks, Roger Greenberg, will likely make a play for the club. Lastly is Farm Boy owner Jeff York, who reportedly met with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.