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François Gagnon: Michael Andlauer is getting closer to the Senators, but is he moving away from the Senate?

PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Ottawa Senators will get a new owner by the end of the season and Canadian Minority Owner Michael Andlauer’s name is high on the list of candidates.

In Palm Beach on Monday afternoon, Andlauer declined to comment before joining the NHL’s 32-team referees.

“I’m here as a member of the Montreal Canadiens,” which he simply uttered as a way to evade the question.

And this is absolutely true. Because Michael Andlauer represents Habs on the Board of Governors, as does Geoff Molson and the number two in the CH group, France-Margaret Bélanger.

The major Canadiens shareholder, Geoff Molson, has not made clear whether he and his partners will allow Andlauer to keep his shares with the Habs while he becomes the majority shareholder in the Senators.

True, it would be a bit surprising or two to see Andalauer possess a couple of rivals who are also close neighbors. It is true that the NHL can strongly suggest that this would be a very bad idea.

But he can do it.

After all, Bill owns shares in the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Winnipeg Jets. In addition to owning an interest in the Habs, Woodbridge is also the principal owner of the Winnipeg Jets. In fact, the Thompson family, who run Woodbridge, are the wealthiest owners in the entire NHL.

However, the first question to be answered is whether Andlauer, if he got the Senators, would want to keep his stock with the Canadians.

What is not obtained.

Because by making money from his stocks, a businessman who has made his fortune transporting medical products across Canada can make huge profits. This would facilitate the transaction in the context of buying the Senators.

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Partnership with André Desmarais

According to reliable information obtained behind the scenes from the NHL referees meeting held at the Breakers Hotel, in Palm Beach, Michael Andlauer, despite his wealth, will not have 20% of the Canadians as many speculate. He’d been proposing as much for a few weeks.

far from it.

But his shares, no matter what proportion they represent, can first be bought by one or more of his partners in Canada: Jeff Molson, his brothers Andrew and Justin, the Woodbridge and Peel group, and the National Bank.

Already known to other owners, already with skills and qualities recognized by the 32 precinct judges, Andlauer certainly has a slight advantage over the other candidates.

His already established relations with Commissioner Gary Pittman, who plays a leading role in examining applications from those interested in acquiring one of “his” league teams, is far from detrimental to the businessman who also owns the Hamilton Bulldogs in the US. Ontario Hockey League.

Not to mention the rumors that he could partner with André Desmarais in the acquisition of the Senators. Great financial support, it goes without saying. Even more support in terms of the credibility of the proposal to buy senators.

Especially since, in parallel with the acquisition of the hockey team, the new owners of the Senators will have to reach an agreement with the National Capital Commission (NCC) under the project to erect a new grandstand at LeBreton Flats, in downtown Ottawa, as well as to create an urban development around the team’s next home. .

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The project for the new amphitheater and the urban complex in which it will be built comes up with the Senators. Hence the importance of interest groups demonstrating their ability to carry out the entire deal.

It is important to remember that André Desmarais had already presented such a project a few years earlier when he and his partner at the time, Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté, were trying to move forward with the acquisition of the Senators.

Guy Laliberté is no longer involved in the case. At least, this is what the information obtained suggests.

It will be the final word for Melnik’s heiress

If the sale of the Senators is certain to happen fairly quickly, given the NCC’s concerns, the NHL has yet to begin its final steps before leaving to heiress Eugene Melnyk and the specialists guiding them in this sale, to make the final decision.

Because it is not the NHL that makes the final decision, but the owners of the team are up for sale. However, they must, or are in the case of senators, limit their selection to candidates who have received the blessing of Pittman and the governors.

Applications received, they will be carefully analyzed and then accepted or rejected.

How many apps are we talking about?

Assistant Commissioner Bettman, Bill Daley, was persuaded to point out that they were too many without providing the beginning of the number.

“The fact that the Senators are attracting so much interest is further evidence of the university’s financial health as investors see this opportunity as an opportunity to grow their investment,” said Bill Daley.

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Speaking of LeBreton Flats, the senators and former aides to Eugene Melnyk have reached an out-of-court settlement on the sidelines of a series of lawsuits filed between them following several skirmishes in the RendezVous LeBreton case.

This agreement should facilitate the sale of the team.

Once all applications have been analyzed, prospective owners will have to appear before the executive committee—a committee led by Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and which includes nine other owners, including the Canadiens’ Jeff Molson, not to mention Commissioner Gary Pittman. – To be bombarded with questions related to their goals, their strategies for achieving them, and the philosophy they intend to apply to maximize their chances of success.

Michel Andlauer and the other candidates have not made it this far. But members of the Executive Committee “interrogated” one of the candidates on Monday morning.

This is Bill Hassan.

Former Tennessee governor and brother of Cleveland Browns owner Dee Haslam, Bill Haslam is on his way to taking the final steps to becoming the majority shareholder of the Nashville Predators.