The Ottawa Senators are not commenting on a report published Tuesday that said the team's board of directors are lining up for a potential sale, months after the passing of owner Eugene Melnyk.
Los Angeles-based Sportico reports the Sens have hired Galatioto Sports Partners (GSP), a sport banking firm that acts as an arranger in sales of professional sports teams — like a real estate agent.
A spokesperson for the Ottawa Senators said the organization would not comment on the report.
Bruce Firestone, the team's founder, said via text it's probably time for a change.
"With the team on the upswing, there will likely be quite a bit of interest. My hope is that a local group will take over and I've spoken with a few who may participate," he said.
Firestone declined to offer more details about those local groups.
'Really attractive for new ownership'
GSP president Sal Galatioto declined to comment. His company boasts that its staff have "acted in the capacity of financial advisor, arranger, agent, underwriter or participant in over 100 transactions and assignments in the major North American and international sports leagues."
Moshe Lander, an economics professor at Concordia University in Montreal, said the timing of the report makes sense as the team is off to a decent start to the 2022-2023 season.
Out of eight games so far, the Senators have won four.
"You don't want to say the team's going up for sale when they're 10 points out of a playoff spot in February and the season's all but written off," Lander said. "That's not a good way to attract a buyer."
The report of a potential sale also comes four months after the Senators inked a deal, again, with the National Capital Commission that could bring a new NHL arena to LeBreton Flats near downtown Ottawa.
The signed memorandum of understanding with the Senators-led Capital Sports Development Inc. lays the groundwork for an arena and mixed-use development on Albert Street between Preston Street and City Centre Avenue.
A new venue for the Senators would "be really attractive for a new ownership group to really make their mark in the city," said Eric Macintosh, an associate professor in the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa.
Owner Melnyk died in March
The report of the potential sale also comes after the death of owner Eugene Melnyk, who left the team to his two daughters, Anna and Olivia.
The franchise has been run on their behalf by a board of directors for the past several months.
In May, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Melnyk's daughters will have to ultimately decide how they want to proceed.
"The franchise is being professionally run," Bettman told reporters. "The club's not on the market. There's no urgency. The club's not unstable. There are no problems."
It is still possible the Melnyk sisters want to retain a stake in the team their father loved.