(UPDATE 6:45 PM)- This evening, the organization responded to the rumours via the team’s Chief Operating Officer Nicholas Ruszkowski…
“On behalf of the Ottawa Senators and our owner Eugene Melnyk, let me keep it very simple: the team is not for sale, nor are we negotiating any offer. We made public our 135 million dollar financing yesterday to signal our intent to invest in the team, the fan experience, and in our community. At no time has the Club or any of its executives interacted with Mr. Laliberte on our business, and certainly he had no involvement in our recent financing. Our owner has never worked with him, in any capacity.”
Rumours about the Ownership situation in Ottawa have been out there for months. Maybe even longer than that.
In November 2017, those rumours got loud enough that I tweeted about ongoing speculation regarding potential ownership changes in Ottawa. Wildly premature as it turned out but others also mentioned hearing similar speculation.? Current Owner Eugene Melnyk issued a strong denial at the time and he has done it at every opportunity to since.
Yet the talk continues.? And in the last month or so, it seems to have increased again.
Yesterday, the Senators issued a short and frankly strange press release stating that the team had secured $135 million in financing.? What wasn’t clear is who that news release was targeted to and why they felt it was necessary to share it through their official channels.
On the surface, it certainly looked like Melnyk had found a way to hang on a little longer.? While it seemed like the news might represent temporary financial stability for the franchise, there was near consensus among fans that this wasn’t good news. Especially for those hoping for a sale in the near future.
This morning, a glimmer of hope was offered by The Fourth Period. ?Courtesy of David Pagnotta…
“Speaking on the basis on anonymity, a well-placed source with direct knowledge of the situation has confirmed to TFP that Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has engaged in negotiations to sell the franchise.
According to the league-source, Melnyk has received one offer for the organization and that “offer had been considered.”
During last week’s Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas, while not officially on the agenda, league owners discussed the $135 million refinancing loan the Senators announced they finalized on Wednesday and also discussed the offer pitched for the club.”
That an offer was made should not come as a complete shock. Other sources have confirmed that there is interest in the franchise and Melnyk himself went so far as to suggest that he hadn’t received any worthwhile offers.
What’s interesting here is that the NHL Board of Governors discussed this issue directly and maybe more importantly, that Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly offered a direct comment on the issue.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly acknowledged this report when contacted via email early Thursday morning, and wanted to temper the subject by stating that he doesn’t “equate an offer to purchase the Sens (and reporting that offer to the board) with an intention or desire to sell the team. ?The two are very different in my mind.”
That’s the show-stopper here. The rumours have finally reached the level that the league is willing to offer comment. It is by no means a confirmation of everything being reported here but it’s a significant development.
The article includes some other fascinating although unconfirmed details.
First of all, there is a specific reference to Guy Laliberte being among the interested parties. That has long been assumed, given his involvement in the project at LeBreton Flats but it’s interesting to see him specifically referenced. The Fourth Period also suggests that Laliberte may have played a part in helping the team secure the $135 million in refinancing.
For what it’s worth, I have had as many as six people (with various connections) reach out in the last few weeks to suggest they had heard increased talk of negotiations on a potential sale. And that included one person who felt like it was close to the point where they could “break the story”.
Not sure if that’s the same information The Fourth Period was working with but it’s interesting timing, to say the least.? The Ottawa Citizen and TSN have both shared the Fourth Period report.
Meanwhile, Bull Daly is doing is best to pour cold water on things.
Bill Daly regarding the report about the Senators being in active discussions for a possible sale: “It is not accurate to suggest that Eugene Melnyk is on active discussions to sell the Club. He is the owner of the Club and I believe he wants to remain the owner going forward.”
— Brent Wallace (@tsn_wally) June 28, 2018
The denial from Eugene Melnyk won’t be far behind.
Because as we know, sports franchises are never for sale. Until they are sold.
-Unfortunately, this news took away from a great ChirpEd submission from SensProspects. He pulled together a detailed breakdown of Wednesday at Development Camp and if all goes according to plan, he’ll be back with thoughts on today’s session and Friday’s scrimmage too. And hopefully a post-Camp Q&A. You can follow SensProspects on Twitter here and subscribe to his YouTube channel here.