NHL News: Ottawa Senators new owner promises to make city proud

Today’s NHL News follows up with the sale of the Ottawa Senators to Michael Andlauer, who recently got unanimous approval from the NHL Board of Governors.

For those who love hockey history, many know the history of hockey in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada’s capital city. Before the NHL even existed, the Senators came into existence in 1883, changing names to the Generals and Silver Seven, winning the Stanley Cup 11 times before folding in 1934. 

After 58 years without an NHL franchise, Ottawa got the Senators back in 1992 as one of the first expansion teams since 1974. Despite employing several Hall of Fame players like Dominik Hasek, Daniel Alfredsson, and Marian Hossa, the team has only played in the Stanley Cup Final once since being reborn. 

Moreover, the Senators have struggled in the past decade, failing to qualify for the playoffs since 2017 and unable to land a new arena deal, leaving fans waiting for the news to break that the team is relocating. Unfortunately, they lost their most recent owner, Eugene Melnyk, in 2022, leaving the club to his family, who opted to sell.

“It’s been a long road, but I must tell you that it’s been worth the journey,” Andlauer said at a press conference Friday. “I can really say I’m finally home. It’s emotional.”

via NHL.com

On Thursday, news broke that Michael Andlauer became the Senators’ newest owner, and at his first press conference, promised to “make the city proud.”

Evaluating the current Senators lineup heading into 2023-24

nhl recaps brady tkachuk
Jan 18, 2023; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) celebrates his goal scored in overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in a while, the Senators were competitive all season, missing the playoffs by six points while driving opponents crazy with their aggressive style of play. Led by captain Brady Tkachuk, the Senators are one of the up-and-coming teams in the league, and with key additions like Joonas Korpisalo and Vladimir Tarasenko, Ottawa should qualify for the playoffs in 2023-24. 

Besides those skaters, the organization employs a handful of young elite players like Tim Stützle, Josh Norris, Thomas Chabot, and Jakob Chychrun, who are gelling together to win hockey games. Although the Senators are not considered Stanley Cup contenders, just getting to the postseason will be a problem for their opponents, who may take them lightly and get eliminated for underestimating the unique lineup in Ottawa. 

Realistically, Andlauer may have paid the highest price to acquire an NHL team in history ($950 million), but he’s inheriting a young franchise with a promising future. Whether on the ice or off, the players currently wearing the uniform will help grow the game in the Ottawa area and across the country when the team rolls into town and plays fantastic hockey, pushing opponents to the edge. 

Dissecting the Senators’ future in Ottawa with a new arena deal

Unfortunately, Melnyk was a problematic owner who was never shy to stay out of the headlines. Ultimately, his personality and how he conducted business hurt the Senators, who needed a new arena after decades of playing out in Kantana, Ontario, about 22 kilometers outside the nation’s capital. 

Unlike the Arizona Coyotes, who can’t catch a break in any arena-related concerns, the Senators stand a much better chance of relocating to downtown Ottawa with a new building. Although Melnyk could not secure a deal to replace the Canadian Tire Centre, which opened in 1996, it appears Andlaud is already ahead of the game, having met with the mayor and land owners to discuss possibilities of getting the team closer to downtown. 

“To me, and in talking to the mayor as well, I like options. To me, the most important thing is what’s important to the fans. If I can increase the fan experience, that’s what I’m here for. Probably the fans will help me dictate where the best place to be is. We’re all going in the same direction. So it’s a matter of collaborating, working together and seeing what works, and making it a truly win-win-win situation.”

vs. NHL.com

Despite the legacy left behind by Melnyk, the Senators are about to enter a new era in their history, one led by a passionate owner who wants to bring the Stanley Cup home. Even though there are many hurdles to leap to achieve that goal, the Senators are in good hands, and thanks to a new ownership group, there’s a chance that the franchise will flourish, unlike any period in its recent 31-year history.