As the Ottawa Senators' sale process moves toward its next phase, the identity of a new bidder has emerged.
W. Graeme Roustan is partnering with First Nations in an effort to buy the NHL team, according to industry sources, and the group advanced beyond the recently completed first round of bidding.
Roustan is the former chairman and owner of Bauer and is well-known in NHL circles, having made multiple attempts to buy teams in the past. Until now he has not been among those connected to a sale being run by New York-based firm Galatioto Sports Partners on behalf of Eugene Melnyk's estate.
Beyond supporting the very public ambitions of actor Ryan Reynolds to be part of the Senators next ownership group, NHL executives have been tight-lipped on others interested in owning the team. Earlier this week commissioner Gary Bettman said reports have "been more speculation than accurate," but declined to clarify the inaccuracies.
"This is a process that is best conducted the way these processes are [intended to], which is among the parties directly involved," said Bettman.
Attempts to reach Roustan were unsuccessful.
It's believed his group intends to buy the NHL team and develop the area around LeBreton Flats in downtown Ottawa, where a new arena would be built.
His group's biggest partner is First Nations, per sources, and includes other unknown investors.
Roustan was part of an unsuccessful bid to buy the Montreal Canadiens in 2009 and partnered with Rudy Bratty in trying to build an NHL arena in Markham, Ont., in 2013.
His current business interests include owning The Hockey News, Christian and Northland Hockey. He has extensive ties to the Ottawa area and owns a house in Carleton Place.
The Senators' sale process will soon shift into its next phase, with the remaining bidders expected to be given a chance to meet with the club's senior management staff and attend a home game in the coming weeks.
Among the others still believed to be part of the process are Michael Andlauer, a minority owner of the Canadiens and owner of Andlauer Healthcare Group; Oshawa Generals owner Rocco Tullio, the CEO and founder of Rock Developments; and the Remington Group led by Christopher Bratty, which has reportedly brought Reynolds into the fold.
There are likely others as well.
After this week's GMs Meeting in Florida, Bettman told reporters that the number of remaining bidders would be pared down in a matter of weeks.
“You begin the process of winnowing down the number of interested parties,” Bettman explained. “And while you’re reducing the number of parties, you’re hopefully increasing the magnitude of their interest for those that are remaining.
“No magic there, it’s typical for what goes on in the sale of franchises in other sports, but I’m gratified to see the amount of interest.”
The Sens price tag is expected to come in north of $800 million and some sources believe it could even potentially hit $ 1 billion if the next round of bidding gets competitive enough.