For a team that missed the playoffs, the Ottawa Senators seem to make more news than most.
From the Mike Hoffman/Erik Karlsson situation to the charges against assistant general manager Randy Lee, this team has been making a few too many headlines off the ice. The latest headline about the potential sale of the team is just another distraction that owner Eugene Melnyk and the fractured fanbase do not need.
Just 24 hours after the team’s parent company announced it had successfully restructured some financing for a period of six years, a report surfaced that Melnyk had turned down an offer to sell the team, and that negotiations were ongoing. Later in the day, the NHL and the Senators both denied that Melnyk was actively trying to sell the club, and said he has no intention of selling the team.
For the most part, everyone is right.
Melnyk is not trying to sell the team. He has no interest in selling the team. Did he receive an offer? Absolutely! Are the negotiations ongoing? No.
What we at Sportsnet have been told is that the offer to Melnyk could only be described as a “low-ball offer” and it was quickly dismissed. We’ve also been told that there are no ongoing negotiations to sell the team.
One NHL source went on to suggest that Melnyk’s commitment to the downtown arena, and potential bids for both the NHL Draft and all-star game are signs that the current owner has no intention of selling. When pressed on the re-financing announcement of Wednesday, it was stressed that such actions amongst sports teams are rather commonplace, and in this case was a positive move by the club to get better financing from expiring loans.
For a team that has recently become the butt of many jokes and the target of much criticism, the re-financing should have been viewed as a positive.
Another source familiar with the Senators suggested that if Melnyk were to sell the team, “this would certainly not be the time.” Now that the real estate agreement between the National Capital Commission, Melnyk’s RendezVous LeBreton Group and Ottawa developer John Ruddy’s Trinity Developments has the go-ahead to develop a large portion of LeBreton Flats – near Parliament Hill – the value of the franchise will increase a great deal once shovels are in the ground on site.
Key to that success, according to the NCC, is that RLG must show an ability to finance the project by mid 2019. It’s hoped that shovels will be in the ground in the spring of 2019.
The challenges are massive for Melnyk and his hockey team. The shocking play on the ice for the past season, and the disturbing news off the ice will make selling season tickets in Ottawa very difficult for the upcoming season. The small market that is Ottawa is not reflective of a very knowledgable fan base which knows its hockey. Daniel Alfredsson’s recent comments only fuelled speculation of a possible sale. The news of the last day, indirectly, might just have put all that speculation to bed.
Eugene Melnyk owns the Ottawa Senators. End of story.