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Sens Foundation and Team Parting Ways

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The 22 year relationship ends on July 31st

Scotiabank NHL100 Classic - Press Conference & Legacy Project Ground Breaking Photo by Minas Panagiotakis NHLI via Getty Images

UPDATED: June 5, 2020 5:50pm EST

The Ottawa Senators Foundation has put out a press release saying that their agreement with the club, set to expire as of July 31st, is not being renewed after 22 years of partnership.

The press release doesn’t have any details of why the agreement isn’t being renewed, or even which side made this decision - though Ian Mendes is reporting that it was the Foundation’s call.

Ian also touched on the speculation going around about the timing, with the Foundation releasing a statement about the murder of George Floyd yesterday while the Senators are one of the few teams in North American professional sports to not issue a statement. His educated guess, after having dealt with both parties for years and sat on the Foundation’s board for three years, is that it may have been symptomatic of “a wider philosophical divide” between the two, but not a singular issue that led to this decision.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the Foundation itself, though they wouldn’t be able to use the Senators name or logo anymore. The release notes that their first priority is “to fulfill our current operational, legal and charitable obligations by July 31, 2020”, before turning to the question of the Foundation’s future beyond the end of July.

The Senators have since released a statement, pointing to a disagreement with “foundation leadership”:

The current terms of the foundation’s licensing agreement, which provides the foundation the right to use the Ottawa Senators brand, will end on July 31, 2020. The Ottawa Senators informed the current foundation leadership months ago that the club intends to open a fair and transparent request for proposals (RFP) process to ensure its charitable arm remains a vital part of the community. The foundation leadership protested and informed the Ottawa Senators they would not comply with an RFP process.

...

The Senators, the senior executive management, and leadership of the current foundation board have been in protracted discussions regarding the licensing agreement, which included a possible extension of the current arrangement for an additional four months, participation in the RFP, and how the hockey club can assist the foundation in responding. Furthermore, the foundation was furnished with an advance copy of the RFP in May. Today, senior executive management and the foundation’s board leadership formally declined the extension and the opportunity to participate in an RFP process.

The team obviously followed this up by saying they were developing an RFP process to seek public bids.

Silver Seven has reached out to the Foundation for comment, but hasn’t yet received a reply.

In an article for the Ottawa Sun, Rick Gibbons has pointed to a disagreement between Eugene Melnyk, and Sens Foundation brass as the reason for the split:

There are lots of issues that led to this fracture, but money was at the heart of it, especially when it came to the manner in which the foundation allocates millions of dollars it raises annually from major galas, other fund raising events and 50-50 draws.

The charity prides itself in supporting youth programs right across the region and believes that such support is the primary reason the community supports the charity in return.

But the team’s owner wants a good portion of the money directed to other initiatives, including his own pet project – organ donation awareness. Suffice to say the argument has become nasty.

TSN’s Brent Wallace also chimed in:

We will keep you abreast of further updates.