Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia is reporting that there were four binding bids submitted today to purchase the Ottawa Senators. The groups to submit the bids were Michael Andlauer, Jeffrey and Michael Kimel, Steve Apostolopoulos, and Neko Sparks. Garrioch also tweeted that one bid was at the $1B mark. While there is still much to consider and a lot of work to be done, todays bids bring the sale of the franchise one step closer to being completed. The groups that bid are an interesting mix with varying degrees of experience in sports franchise ownership.
Michael Andlauer is a Toronto billionaire who is currently a minority owner of the Montreal Canadiens. Andlauer emerged in late 2022 as an early favorite to land the team as he had the assets and the familiarity with the NHL having already been a minority owner. Andlauer is the founder of the Andlauer Healthcare Group Inc. and was previously the owner of the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, a struggling franchise he purchased in 2002 and turned into a champion. He still currently owns the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Should Andlauer be successful in his bid to buy the Senators he would have to sell his share in the Canadiens, something he has already reportedly explored.
Jeffrey and Michael Kimel run the Harlo Financial Group and made waves a week ago when music sensation The Weeknd reportedly joined their bid for the Senators. The Kimel’s had previously been minority owners of the Pittsburgh Penguins until the team was sold in 2021. The pair are heavily invested in the entertainment industry and are based in Toronto, making them a good fit to run the Senators should their bid be successful.
Steve Apostolopoulos made an unsuccessful bid recently to purchase the NFL’s Washington Commanders, a bid that lost out to a group that was led by New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris. Like the Kimel’s and Michael Andlauer, Apostolopoulos is Canadian, he is from Toronto and founded Six Ventures Inc., a private equity venture fund. Apostolopoulos has been linked to bids for multiple sports franchises but has yet to purchase one. He visited the Canadian Tire Center in Ottawa about a month ago, bringing with him former NHLer and hockey analyst Nick Kypreos.
Neko Sparks is a Los Angeles based entrepreneur and film producer whose group also made a lot of noise recently when it was announced that Snoop Dogg would be a part of the bid. More recently they also made headlines for reportedly partnering with First Nations in an arrangement that includes an equity stake in the franchise worth a reported 10%.
The process is sure to get interesting over the next few months as the bids are scrutinized and vetted. Gary Bettman has previously stated that he is hopeful that the Senators will have a new ownership group in place by mid-summer.
Another piece to keep an eye on will be how the Senators approach the draft and free agency. Players might be apprehensive to sign long term in Ottawa until they know who will sign their checks for the foreseeable future. Of note is Alex DeBrincat, who is just 14 months away from unrestricted free agency and has been cautious and coded when talking about his long-term future.