Was New Senators Owner Wrongly Misled About a Trade Violation?

Ottawa Senators owner Michael Andlauer, who purchased the team for $950 million in September, recently expressed his surprise and disappointment about a trade violation that occurred in 2021. This violation has resulted in the Senators forfeiting a valuable first-round draft pick.

During a press conference, Andlauer revealed that he was misled about the seriousness of the trade violation during the team’s acquisition. The NHL announced that the Senators failed to disclose a no-trade list in the trade of right wing Evgenii Dadonov to the Vegas Golden Knights. As a result, the subsequent trade of Dadonov to the Anaheim Ducks was voided, and he was eventually traded to the Montreal Canadiens.

The forfeiture of the draft pick comes shortly after the NHL suspended Senators center Shane Pinto for 41 games due to “activities relating to sports wagering.” The team has also fired general manager Pierre Dorion, with Steve Staios assuming interim GM duties.

Andlauer’s ownership of the Senators has faced scrutiny since the death of former owner Eugene Melnyk. Andlauer, along with Melnyk’s daughters, worked with an investment bank to sell the team to Andlauer’s group.

While Andlauer was aware of the investigation into the voided trade during the sale process, he believes the seller downplayed its significance. He expressed his dissatisfaction with inheriting the penalty and suggested that the NHL may have delayed announcing the decision to ensure a favorable sale for the previous owner.

Despite feeling wronged, Andlauer is unlikely to take legal action. However, he acknowledges the negligence in the team’s handling of the trade and accepts that punishment is warranted.

The situation raises questions about the duty to disclose material facts in contract law. Andlauer might argue that he would have offered less for the team if he had known the full extent of the trade violation. The sellers and the NHL would have legal defenses, citing media coverage of the botched trade and Andlauer’s acknowledgment of the investigation.

Andlauer’s previous ownership stake in the Montreal Canadiens and his experience as an NHL owner could also impact potential legal claims. As a successful businessperson, he had access to information that could have alerted him to the Dadonov investigation.

Kurt Badenhausen contributed to this story.

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