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Daly expects 'fairly complicated' Senators sale to close soon

HENDERSON, Nev. — The sale of the Ottawa Senators is almost — finally — signed, sealed and delivered. A group led by Michael Andlauer agreed to purchase the NHL club in June for what's believed to be in the neighbourhood of US$1 billion.
Ottawa Senators NHL team signage is shown at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 13, 2023. The sale of the Ottawa Senators is coming to a close. A group led by Toronto-based businessman Michael Andlauer has reached an agreement in principle to purchase the NHL team, the Senators announced Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

HENDERSON, Nev. — The sale of the Ottawa Senators is almost — finally — signed, sealed and delivered.

A group led by Michael Andlauer agreed to purchase the NHL club in June for what's believed to be in the neighbourhood of US$1 billion.

The league then went to task on a mountain of paperwork and accompanying due diligence.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says that process is nearly complete.

"It's close," he said Tuesday at the NHL/NHLPA player media tour just outside Las Vegas. "I think all the major leg work has been done already.

"I would expect that the transaction should close, if not before training camp, certainly early in training camp." 

The Senators went up for sale last November following the death of owner Eugene Melnyk.

Andlauer and his group are on the cusp of purchasing 90 per cent of the club from Melnyk's adult daughters, who are retaining 10 per cent.

The Senators haven't made the playoffs since 2017 when the they fell a goal short in the Eastern Conference final, but have a young core led by captain Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle and Thomas Chabot that appears poised to break through.

Daly said getting the sale finalized has been complicated by the number of investors under the Andlauer umbrella.

The group includes Farm Boy grocery store co-CEO Jeff York and the Malhotra family, owners of Ottawa real-estate development giant Claridge Homes.

"There's lot of people involved," Daly said. "It's the financial due diligence you need to do, the background checks you need to do on all those partners."

Andlauer is also the founder and chief executive officer of Andlauer Healthcare Group, which owns health-care supply chain companies, and the founder of Toronto-based merchant bank Bulldog Capital Partners. 

"There are last-minute issues that need to be resolved all the time," Daly continued of the sale process. "There's the issue of negotiating what representations and warranties are being made, who's on the hook for certain things. 

"Each transaction's different, but I would put this in a 'fairly complicated' bucket." 


Daly said the league and NHL Players' Association are now looking at a scaled-back World Cup for 2025.

He said the timeline for a traditional tournament — last held in 2016 — is too tight, especially considering Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine.

"It's not gonna be a typical World Cup tournament," he said. "We're focused on an alternative type of tournament that leverages the unique internationality of our sport.

"That's the process we're in now, working with the players' association, really to design something that we can plug into February 2025."

Daly was tight-lipped when asked about the format.

"That's where I'm being ambiguous intentionally," he said. "I can't tell you exactly some of the things we have in mind, but it wouldn't be eight teams playing over a 16-day time period. 

"It's going to be probably something different." 


Daly said the NHL continues to negotiate with the International Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation regarding participation at the 2026 Games in Italy.

The deputy commissioner added the usual talking points are being discussed, namely the cost of insurance and charter air travel.

"I think the only way this works for 170 NHL players, who obviously are going to be utilizing charters flying to Italy and then fly him home when the tournament's over," he said.

"Those are costs that historically have been picked up by the IOC/IIHF/local organizing committees. The negotiation is really, 'How do you cover those costs? Who's responsible for them? Is there some risk-shifting that goes on?'"

The NHL and the players' association agreed in the current collective bargaining agreement to go to the Winter Games as long as an agreement could be reached with international partners.

The league skipped the 2018 Olympics before the COVID-19 pandemic derailed plans in 2022.

The hope is the NHL can get back on a two-year cycle that would see a World Cup in 2028 and participation at the 2030 Olympics. Hockey hasn't held a best-on-best tournament since the 2014 Games.

Daly said he hopes to have a decision before the calendar flips to 2024.

"We've had meetings with the IOC and the IIHF," he said. "We've formed working groups with representation both on the NHL and the NHLPA with IOC representatives and IIHF representatives to work through those issues and tackle them.

"And hopefully come to a successful resolution." 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 12, 2023.


Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press