Bettman: Celebrity-affiliated bids for Senators a plus, but must ‘stand on their own merit’

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a news conference before Game 1 of the NHL Hockey Stanley Cup Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, in Denver. (David Zalubowski/AP)

Although Gary Bettman believes celebrity-partnered ownership of the Ottawa Senators could be beneficial, he says all bids will be judged by their own worth.

In an interview on the Bob McCown Podcast, the NHL commissioner commented on Vancouver-born actor Ryan Reynolds’ partnership with the Remington Group and rapper Snoop Dogg’s association to a separate bid for the team.

“It can be a plus for the franchise going forward,” Bettman told McCown and co-host John Shannon in the interview that was posted on Friday. “But the bids are going to have to stand on their own merit.”

Reynolds, who has ownership experience with Wrexham FC in Wales, and the Remington Group are just one of seven bidders, according to Postmedia. Snoop Dogg is part of a consortium led by Los Angeles producer Neko Sparks.

Bettman believes the interest is a positive sign.

“I’m very pleased,” Bettman said. “I think our franchises are going to become increasingly more valuable than they are even are now. For some period of time, the perception has been that we’ve undervalued.

“There are four major sports leagues in North America, there’s a limited number of franchises, we tell a pretty compelling story about our growth retroactively and prospectively. When you come into this we have a system that enables you, if you’re well run, to be competitive.

“If you’re interested in sports, and you want to own a team, why wouldn’t you want to be part of the NHL?”

Until the sale is completed, Bettman doesn’t like excessive outside speculation about the inner workings of the offers.

“If people want to express an interest, saying they want to be involved, I’m good with that,” Bettman said. “The nuts and bolts of what’s going on, who’s bidding what, I don’t think that helps the process. A lot of it, I believe, is part of the negotiation where one group is trying to get a leg up or discourage others from bidding. Who knows?

“You know me, until something is done, the less publicity, the better. There’s a lot being speculated that isn’t accurate.”

Although some expected the sale of the franchise to be closer to its conclusion by now, Bettman said the delay is primarily due to the interest from a multitude of bidders.

“I’m not the one running the process, there’s an investment banker in New York, and he consults with me, so I know what’s going on,” said Bettman. “The timeline may be about right or may be a little slower because of how many prospective owners there are that have to do their due diligence.

“But it’s great to see, and as important as anything else, it should tell all the fans in Ottawa that this franchise is going to have a very bright future right there in Ottawa. Maybe not in Kanata, maybe downtown, but the nation’s capital is generating a tremendous amount of interest from prospective NHL owners. That’s good for anybody interested in that franchise.”

Last week, Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch reported that the Remington group “is prepared to bid more than $1 billion to buy the Senators and the Canadian Tire Centre.”

Garrioch had previously reported the deadline for the second and final round of bids for the team is May 15.

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