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Bettman: Senators' best days are yet to come under Andlauer

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With the Michael Andlauer era officially underway in Ottawa, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has high hopes for the Senators.

"I don't think there's anybody who should have any concerns about the future of this franchise," Bettman said Friday while officially introducing Andlauer as the team's new owner, per Sportsnet. "In fact, to the contrary, I think everybody can be assured that the best days of this franchise are yet to come."

Andlauer's group reached a deal to buy the Senators for a reported $950 million in mid-June after the team first hit the market in November. The league's board of governors officially approved the purchase Thursday.

"It's been worth the journey," Andlauer said. "I can really say I'm finally home."

As for the Senators' home, Andlauer made clear that a decision on a new stadium for the team will be made with the fans in mind.

"To me, the most important thing is what's important for the fans," he said. "If I can increase the fans' experience, that's what I'm here for. Probably the fans will help me dictate where the best place to be (is)."

The Senators signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Capital Commission (NCC) and other investors to build a downtown arena at LeBreton Flats in June 2022. Ottawa mayor Mark Sutcliffe said in March that LeBreton Flats would be a "great location" but also floated other scenarios for a new rink, per CTV News' Michael Woods.

Andlauer praised LeBreton Flats as "the best piece of land available in any major city in North America" on Thursday, although he also brought up empty federal buildings in Ottawa as another option. In addition, he said he anticipates having to "invest a little bit more" into the Canadian Tire Centre, which is located in the nearby suburb of Kanata, Ontario. Andlauer presumes it'll continue to be the Sens' home for another five years due to construction and government processes.

The Senators missed the playoffs by six points last campaign. However, there's excitement that they'll get over the hump in 2023-24 after an offseason that saw them bring in goalie Joonas Korpisalo and veteran sniper Vladimir Tarasenko.

Andlauer thinks he's capable of doing his part to help Ottawa reach new heights.

"It truly is my passion to win the Cup. ... I believe I can make a difference," he said. "I think I've done it at different levels of hockey, whether it be the AHL or in the OHL. The fundamentals are the same. I'm determined."

The Toronto billionaire also confirmed that former Senators president Cyril Leeder will return to the franchise as CEO.

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