Canadian billionaire Michael Andlauer has reached an agreement in principle to acquire the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Ottawa Senators.

The deal, subject to approval from the NHL along with the finalization of the sale process, will see Andlauer purchase 90% of the Canadian team, while former owners Anna and Olivia Melnyk will retain a 10% interest. It will see the team taken off the market after seven months.

Reports from Canada estimate it to be worth around $950 million to $1 billion. This would represent a new record for an NHL franchise sale, topping the $900 million paid by Fenway Sports Group in 2021 for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In a statement, Andlauer said: “My family and I are very excited to be part of the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club.

“I believe that the Senators’ fanbase is one of the most passionate in the league and I’m excited to take the franchise’s success both on and off the ice to the next level.

“The short and long-term future of the team is incredibly bright, and I look forward to getting to know the team, the fanbase, and the community.”

The Senators were initially put up for sale last November, eight months after the team’s owner Eugene Melnyk died. He had owned the team since 2003 when he bought the team for $92 million.

Ownership passed to his daughters Anna and Olivia who hired New York-based firm Galatioto Sports Partners (GSP) to handle the sale.

One of seven NHL franchises based in Canada, the Ottawa Senators returned to the league in 1992 following a 58-year absence. Since then, the team has won four titles in the Northeast Division and a Presidents' Trophy in 2002-03.

Sheldon Plener, chairman and governor of the Ottawa Senators, said: “Michael [Andlauer] represents everything we could have hoped to find coming into this process – a passionate owner who is committed to Ottawa.

“I want to thank Anna and Olivia Melnyk for their dedication and support to the board of directors and executors of the estate during this process. We would also like to recognize the ongoing efforts of the NHL and the outstanding work of GSP.

“We believe it is a momentous day for the National Capital Region.”

Andlauer is the chief executive and founder of healthcare supply chain management company Andlauer Healthcare Group and founder of Bulldog Capital Partners, the Toronto-based merchant bank focusing on private equity investments.

He has been involved with ice hockey for decades, starting as the co-owner of the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs in 2003, before becoming the franchise’s majority owner in 2004.

In 2015, Andlauer sold the Hamilton Bulldogs to the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens and acquired the Ontario Hockey League’s Belleville Bulls. He then relocated the Bulls to Hamilton where they won the OHL Championship in 2018 and 2022.

He also purchased a share of the Canadiens in 2009 and has served as the team’s alternate governor since the purchase. He will have to sell his stake in the team to buy the Senators.

With the sales agreement now in place, the application for new ownership will be passed on to the NHL, which will investigate the ownership group’s financial resources and background.

Once concluded, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will apply to the board of governors – comprised of the majority owner of each NHL franchise – for a vote this off-season. To succeed, the application needs at least 24 votes for the new owner to be approved. 

Image: Jaylynn Nash/Getty Images