Melnyk feels agreement soon

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk told the Sun yesterday that he's confident the NHL and NHLPA will have a collective bargaining agreement in place for the 2005-06 season to start on time in October.

In fact, Melnyk said Senators president Roy Mlakar has informed employees they will be back to five-day work weeks at full salary starting May 30, while many who have been laid off could be back by mid-July.

"We're going to get back to business as usual," said Melnyk. "I'm the eternal optimist. I'm hopeful that we're going to have a deal in place and I'm excited because I believe hockey is going to be back in the fall.

"We've had the employees on four-day work weeks and we've basically been going with a skeleton staff. We're assuming we're going to have a season next October and we've got to have everybody in place to be ready for it."

Melnyk said he couldn't comment on the use of replacement players, but he's confident NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union boss Bob Goodenow will find common ground.

"I just hope for everybody's sake that hockey is back in the fall," said Melnyk. "I really miss it. Events like the Kentucky Derby are great, but to me there's nothing like a Saturday night watching hockey."


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