The Ottawa Senators have retained a bank to explore a sale, according to multiple people familiar with the plans.
The family of late owner Eugene Melnyk has hired Galatioto Sports Partners, said the people, who were granted anonymity because the details are private. Melnyk died in March and left the team to his two children—Anna and Olivia—who are both younger than 25. The franchise is currently run by a three-person board.
The Senators are worth $655 million, according to Sportico’s most recent valuations, which ranks No. 27 in the league. That’s a 21% jump in the past year, the largest year-over-year jump in the league.
A representative for the NHL team didn’t immediately return an email and voicemail seeking comment. Galatioto Sports Partners, which is also selling MLB’s Los Angeles Angels, declined to comment.
Should the team sell for around that price, it would be among the highest price ever paid for an NHL franchise. Last year Fenway Sports Group bought the Penguins in a deal that valued the franchise at a record $900 million. Former Tennessee governor Bill Haslam is in the process of acquiring a controlling stake of the Nashville Predators, a deal that values the current club at $775 million.
The Senators currently play at the Canadian Tire Centre, an arena about 16 miles (26 kilometers) from the capital city’s downtown center. Many believe the location has limited the team’s attendance; the team is averaging 15,017 through five games this season, which ranks 26th in the league. The Senators also haven’t made the playoffs since 2017.
In June, the team signed a memorandum of understanding for a much-needed new downtown arena at the LeBreton Flats site. There are still many steps between the MOU and an arena opening, but securing that agreement in connection with the sale would likely drive the price even higher.
Galatioto Sports Partners is run by Sal Galatioto, who has been handling sports M&A deals for more than 20 years.
With reporting from Kurt Badenhausen.