Senators are up for sale, buyer must keep team in Ottawa

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — The Ottawa Senators are on the market.

The board of directors of Senators Sports & Entertainment said Friday a process has been initiated for the sale of the NHL club. The board retained Galatioto Sports Partners, a firm specializing in the sports finance and advisory business, as its financial adviser.

“A condition of any sale will be that the team remains in Ottawa,” the team said in a news release.

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk died on March 28 at age 62 after battling an illness. He had previously said he planned to leave the team to his daughters, Anna and Olivia.

Melnyk purchased the Senators in 2003 for $92 million at a time when the franchise faced bankruptcy and a tenuous future in the nation’s capital.

A recent valuation from sports-business news outlet Sportico listed the Senators at $655 million.

The team’s day-to-day operations has been handled by the board of directors since Melnyk’s death.

Under Melnyk, the Senators played in the Stanley Cup final in 2007 when Ottawa lost in five games to the Anaheim Ducks. Ottawa nearly returned to the Cup final a decade later but lost the deciding game of the conference final in double overtime. Since that loss, the Senators have missed the playoffs in five straight seasons.

Melnyk’s relationship with the Senators’ fanbase soured as the years went on.

The owner’s comments before a 2017 outdoor game in Ottawa, indicating he could move the team in the future if attendance didn’t increase, sparked a ”#MelnykOut″ campaign on city billboards and social media.

Ottawa is off to a 4-6-0 start this season despite a talented young core and series of significant offseason moves like acquiring forwards Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat.

The team has played at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata since the arena opened in 1996. But the team has again expressed interest in building an arena at a site in Ottawa.

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