Hockey

Melnyk owns Senators outright

Eugene Melnyk is celebrating his entry into the NHL fraternity with an Eagles concert.

Melnyk finally -- officially -- bought the bankrupt Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, more than two months after receiving unanimous approval from the league board of governors to purchase the team and Corel Centre.

"It's got to be run like a business," acknowledged Melnyk, the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Biovail Corp., a Mississauga-based pharmaceuticals company.

"But the bottom line is it's got to be fun."

With that in mind, Melnyk's first task as Senators owner was to announce a free concert featuring the Eagles for season-ticket subscribers and team staff on October 9.

"We wanted to do something special," explained the 43-year-old Canadian-born billionaire.

"We want people to be enticed to be here and not threatened. That kind of mindset is going to change."

Ottawa opens the NHL season October 10 versus the Montreal Canadiens, yet ticket sales are down.

That, despite a splendid playoff run that saw the Senators reach the Eastern Conference final before being eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils.

"I think a lot of it has to do with people just not being emotionally tied because of the threat that the team may leave," Melnyk said. "I'm guaranteeing you the team is going to be staying in Ottawa now."

Melnyk's Capital Sports Properties Inc. agreed June 9 to purchase Palladium Corporation, whose assets included the Senators and Corel Centre.

Melnyk, who already owns the OHL St. Michael's Majors and numerous racehorses, reportedly paid $127.5 million US -- $100 million US for the team and $27.5 million for the arena.

with files from Sports Network

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