Melnyk purchase of Senators, Corel Centre finalized

Updated: August 26, 2003, 6:51 PM ET

OTTAWA - The sale of the Ottawa Senators and the Corel Centre to billionaire Eugene Melnyk was finalized Tuesday, just over two months after winning approval from the NHL Board of Governors.

Melnyk was formally introduced as the team's sole owner at a media event and reception at the arena he just purchased.

"Congratulations, Ottawa," said Melnyk, who is chairman and CEO of Biovail Corporation, a pharmaceutical firm based in Mississauga, Ontario.

"As we now move into the Ottawa Senators' 12th year in the NHL, I must tip my hat to the over seven million fans who attended games during the past 11 seasons, as well as to Rod Bryden and the business and community leaders for keeping the dream alive."

Melnyk's Capital Sports & Entertainment Inc. received the go-ahead from a bankruptcy court on May 9 to purchase the cash-strapped Senators. That approval was contingent on his ability to buy the 18,500-seat Corel Centre.

The team sought bankruptcy protection in Canada and the United States after missing a payroll just before New Year's Day. Bryden tried unsuccessfully to retain ownership of the Senators before Melnyk emerged as a buyer.

"This is a splendid moment for the Senators franchise and its fans," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "The Senators are an outstanding team, the Corel Centre is an outstanding facility and today's announcement officially ensures an era of long-term stability for both. We welcome Eugene Melnyk to the NHL."

The financial uncertainty had no effect on the ice as the Senators reached the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in team history and extended the eventual Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils to a tense seventh game.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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