OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators Foundation and the NHL club will no longer be teammates to support local charities and programs for children and youth.

After a 22-year partnership, the Sens Foundation announced its cutting ties with the owner of the Ottawa Senators on July 31.  The Ottawa Senators announced late Thursday afternoon that it will begin a request for proposals to explore alternative options to further its philanthropic endeavours.

The Club-Foundation Agreement between the Sens Foundation and Capital Sports and Entertainment expires on July 31, 2020. The Club-Foundation Agreement grants the Sens Foundation the right to use Senators trademarks, including the Senators name.

“The Ottawa Senators informed the current foundation leadership months ago that the club intends to open a fair and transparent request for proposals process to ensure its charitable arm remains a vital part of the community,” the Senators said in a statement to CTV News Ottawa.

“The foundation leadership protested and informed the Ottawa Senators they would not comply with the RFP process.”

The Ottawa Senators Foundation was established as a Canadian registered charity in January 1998

“As a first priority, we will look to fulfill our current operational, legal and charitable obligations by July 31, 2020, after which we will focus on the Foundation’s future,” the Senators Foundation said in in a statement just after 12 p.m. Thursday.

“In the meantime, we thank the Ottawa Senators for 22 years of partnership and the generosity of people and business throughout the region for supporting the work of the Foundation resulting in thousands of game-changing opportunities for kids."

The Sens Foundation says it has raised more than $31 million in the last five fiscal years of operation in partnership with the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club and donors, sponsors, event participants and 50/50 raffle ticket purchasers.

The Sens Foundation says, “We are proud of what we have accomplished together, from the construction of Roger Neilson House and the 15 Sens RINKs, to our long standing partnership with CHEO and its foundation, to providing thousands of no-cost opportunities for kids to play sports, attend summer camp, pursue an education, or access physical and mental health services via programs we have funded with incredible charities.”

The NHL club said, “The Ottawa Senators organization extends its gratitude and appreciation to the current board of the foundation for serving the charitable organization with distinction. We are proud of the contributions made by the foundation to improve the lives of the people in our community.”

TSN 1200’s Ian Mendes has sat on the board of the Sens Foundation for three years.  Speaking with CTV News Ottawa, Mendes said, “I’m having a hard time thinking of any time in which a professional sports team has had a public and seemingly nasty divorce from its charitable arm."

On Wednesday, the Sens Foundation issued a statement on the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, saying it was both “senseless and tragic."

“I think the foundation and the team have been at odds on a number of things under the hood and maybe that was the final straw so to speak .. I don’t think the tweet had anything to do with it but maybe it gives us a bigger window into the fact there’s a disconnect there,” Mendes said.

The Ottawa Senators Foundation said in a Statement to CTV News Ottawa, “Aside from letting you know that the statement issued by the Ottawa Senators Foundation is unrelated to erroneous speculation related to racism statements, we have nothing further we can add to the story.”

Mendes notes the foundation can still exist after July 31, but wouldn’t have the ability to use the Sens logo, branding and players.

Mendes tweeted that the Sens Foundation announcement "has nothing to do with pandemic – or its economic effects.”

Mendes added the Sens Foundation “do wonderful work in our community and it’s my sincere desire that today’s news does not impact the thousands of people who have benefited from their physical activity/mental health programs.”

Senators Seek Proposals for Charitable Arm

The Ottawa Seantors will begin a request for proposals to explore “alternative options to further its philanthropic endeavours.”

The club says it will continue its support for child and youth empowerment, mental health, and paediatric and palliative care.

“The club also hopes to broaden and expand its reach to include the scope of aid the foundation provides to include, for example, assistance of victims of domestic abuse and organ transplant educational resources,” the Senators said in a statement.

The Senators say the final RFP process will be available to the public shortly for bids.