The Ottawa Senators are on the market.
The board of directors of Senators Sports & Entertainment announced on Friday that a process to sell the NHL club had been initiated.
Galatioto Sports Partners, a company specializing in sports financing and consulting, has been retained as financial advisors.
The team said in a press release that “a condition of any sale will be that the team remains in Ottawa.”
Senators owner Eugene Melnyk died March 28 at the age of 62 after an illness. He had previously said he plans to leave the team to his daughters Anna and Olivia.
Melnyk bought the Senators in 2003 for $92 million at a time when the franchise was facing bankruptcy and a tenuous future in the nation’s capital.
A recent valuation by Sportico, an organization that reports on the sports business, lists the Senators at $655 million.
The day-to-day running of the team has been managed by the board since Melnyk’s death.
Speculation of interested buyers swirled on Friday, including a People magazine report, citing an unnamed source, that Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds is interested in adding the team to his business portfolio.
A Reynolds representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Deadpool star and fellow actor Rob McElhenney recently bought Welsh football club Wrexham AFC.
Under Melnyk, the Senators played in the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals when Ottawa lost to the Anaheim Ducks in five games.
Ottawa almost returned to the Cup Finals a decade later, but lost the deciding game of the Conference Finals in double overtime. Since that loss, the Senators have missed the playoffs five straight seasons.
Melnyk’s relationship with the Senators’ fandom deteriorated over the years.
The owner’s comments ahead of a 2017 outdoor game in Ottawa, suggesting he may relocate the team in the future if attendance doesn’t pick up, sparked a “#MelnykOut” campaign on city billboards and on social media.
Ottawa has gotten off to a 4-6-0 start this season, despite having a talented young core and making significant moves offseason, including the addition of forwards Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat.
A new owner needs to figure out where the Senators will play long-term.
The team has played at the Canadian Tire Center in Kanata, about 15 miles from downtown Ottawa, since the arena opened in 1996.
Senators have expressed renewed interest in building an arena on the LeBreton Flats, west of Parliament Hill. The National Capital Commission said in July that a group led by the NHL franchise was the preferred bidder for the site’s development.
The team had previously considered moving to the area, but the plan fell through when Melnyk and his business partners sued each other.