OTTAWA, May 9 (UPI) -- Toronto billionaire Eugene Melnyk moved a step closer to purchasing the Ottawa Senators Friday when the sale of the club was approved by team creditors.
A court-appointed monitor representing creditors recommended that the sale of the team be approved. The official sale of the team is not expected to be completed until the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs in June.
"It's been a long process, but today's decision by the court is a very important step forward," Melnyk said. "I believe the economics of a financial deal with Covanta Energy Corporation have also been completed.
"Lawyers are now in the advanced stages of completing the transaction for me to purchase the Corel Centre. Finally, we can now focus on cheering the Senators on the road to the Stanley Cup."
In addition buying the Senators, the 43-year-old Melnyk also must work out a deal to purchase the Corel Centre, the club's arena.
"The court process is moving forward, and we anticipate a successful resolution which will give the franchise the stability it needs -- a development that is great for the fans," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We are delighted Mr. Melnyk has stepped forward and we will move forward with the Board of Governors' approval process as quickly as possible."
Despite filing for bankruptcy protection on Jan. 9 with a debt of more than $160 million, the Senators have not allowed their financial troubles to affect them on the ice. Ottawa is in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time and host the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 Saturday night.