If Quebec Wants The Nordiques Back Peladeau Has To Go

He made it him or me. It is either the Quebec Nordiques or Pierre Karl Peladeau. Quebec cannot have both.

Peladeau is the former CEO of Quebecor and is also its majority shareholder, the Quebec media giant that first unsuccessfully tried to buy the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL and then unsuccessfully fronted a bid to become the owner of a returned Quebec Nordiques. Quebecor also owns the management rights to the new Quebec City Videotron arena.

He is also an avid supporter of the provincial Party Quebecois, a political party that has twice attempted to take Quebec out of Canada by referendum and has passed numerous laws that have restricted minority language rights in the Province of Quebec.

Shortly after losing the attempt to buy the Canadiens to Quebec business rival Molson Breweries, Peladeau made a public remark about the suitability of new Canadiens owner Geoff Molson owning the team simply because he is an anglophone Quebecer. Such blatant racism probably doomed the Quebecor bid before a single dollar was paid or the first shovel went into the earth to build the new arena. It was probably THE factor, not the greedy NHL expansion fee, the imbalance between the two NHL conferences, or the fall of the Canadian dollar that made NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s decision to reject Quebecor automatic.

Bettman cannot admit Peladeau to the board table if he is going to make insensitive racial remarks about a fellow board member, Molson, and then probably start feuding with him once he joins the board. Peladeau has neither retracted his remarks, nor publicly apologized to Molson.

But even if Molson was not at the board table, Peladeau would still be an unacceptable board member. How would the other English speaking Canadian owners and probably the majority of the American English speaking ones react to a man who has publicly insulted their race and their language and supports a political party that seeks to restrict their rights and language in the Province of Quebec? Peladeau and similar thinking Quebecers are probably just as abhorrent to the majority of the NHL Board of Governors as they are to Molson.

Take this situation further. What if the Nordiques lose and then owner Peladeau makes a public statement blaming the defeat on the non-French Canadian members of the team? Would he even make non-French Canadians welcome on a Nordiques team? Would he even hire non-French Canadians to be employees of the Nordiques? And what if he made public racial remarks about employees and players on other NHL teams? Bettman cannot take a chance on any of that happening. Unless Peladeau made a public repentance of his views on the scale of St Paul’s conversion to Christianity and then convinced Bettman and the NHL Board of Governors that it was genuine, any bid by Quebecor to own a returned Nordiques was doomed.

Looking back, one has to wonder whether Peladeau’s attempt to buy the Canadiens and then front a bid to return the Nordiques was ever genuine. The utter ridiculousness of Peladeau publicly attacking Molson on racial grounds while trying to become his business partner on a board of governors is beyond all logic. Peladeau wanted to put Quebecor more prominently in the Quebec public eye and further his own career, probably in Quebec provincial politics. It seems it was that goal, not returning the Nordiques to Quebec that was his primary motive.

Any new Nordiques owner would have to be tolerant, at least politically neutral, and put the genuine needs of both the NHL and the Nordiques first. By his public remarks about Molson, it is doubtful that Peladeau had any intention of doing that.

His legacy is an expensive, bitter one, typical of the corruption in the elites that run all of Canada. Quebec has spent nearly $400 million tax dollars – much funded by poor people – on an arena that cannot get an NHL tenant unless Peladeau and similar thinking Quebecers are out of the picture. Quebecor also owns the management rights to the new arena and these rights have to be got out of their hands if Quebec is to get any team. They can forget about the Carolina Hurricanes or any other financially troubled NHL team coming to Quebec so long as Quebecor controls the arena management rights and has any chance of controlling a returned Quebec team.

A returned Nordiques would be one of the better teams in the NHL. But the dream of returning them became the plaything of an ambitious man who put himself first, above the dreams of the thousands of Nordiques fans who thought they had a sure thing coming back, only to see it fall out of the bag due to the intolerance and racism of one man. It is Peladeau or the Nordiques. They are the only options available now.

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What is Going On? Drafts, Trades, and Signings

So the draft happened, and it looked odd for Toronto. Then the Leafs traded for some more future top 6 help. Then everything happened today. Really though what was that?

 

First at bat, the draft. So pick #1 went as expected, Auston Matthews is a Leaf. Yay! From there everything was derailed, and we saw a lot of off the board picks. Yegor Korshkov and Carl Grundstrom being our big follow up picks in round 2, along with Joseph Woll at goal in Round 3. Now as I’m getting to the draft a bit late, I’m not going to analyze our late round picks down to minutiae other than to say: older and bulkier. But the Leafs certainly stocked the cupboards at this draft in terms of depth. We have 1 guaranteed NHLer, a few players who can step into AHL and ECHL roles right away as overagers to replace players that will graduate to the NHL, and a few prospects who will have a bit of time to develop before graduating to pro hockey. Our 2nd round picks excite me however, as Grundstrom has played with both Nylander and Timashov in the past and is known as a right prick, and Korshkov was pointed out by the same scout who brought up Soshnikov. Watching highlights of Yegor especially, if he even gets to even 205 lbs. and maintains the same level of stick handling he’s been seen as capable of, we may have our replacement for JVR in a few years.

 

Next up we have the Leafs second trade in relation to the draft, coming on day 2. Scott Harrington to Columbus for Kerby Rychel. For the life of me I cannot find any clips of him in the AHL, but his OHL highlight reel was impressive to say the least.  He has a sneaky release, and has good ability to use his hands in tight to the net to ensure he gets a shot off. If his lower point totals in the AHL playoffs are a motivational issue, one can hope a change of scenery will do him well. As for Harrington, while he made the team out of camp, he became injured often and subsequently was passed on the depth chart within the organization. With Travis Dermott and Andrew Nielsen coming up in the system, there wasn’t really room for him in the blueprint.

 

Now finally we come to today. June 29th. The day Montreal and Edmonton exploded. I work at night, so I woke up about 10 minutes after the Montreal trade and spent about 3 hours playing catch up on a 30-45 minute period. I bear the responsibility of informing you however, that Rick Nas… no wait, Eric Staa… no that’s not right either… Stamkos? Yup that’s it, Steven Stamkos isn’t coming to Toronto. I don’t honestly know why anyone is surprised. Toronto is used as a bargaining chip to get what you want from other teams 99% of the time. You have clips of players saying it’s their dream to play for the Leafs, but the problem is, they also don’t want to be responsible for it failing. And why is that? Because they’ve seen what the media does to players here. They’ve seen friends and family turn on stars. For readers of my age group, the headline “Curtis Jo-Sieve” may stand out from your childhood. This same media vilified Mats Sundin for refusing to give up hope in his team and accept a trade. This same media called James Reimer’s mother because the Leafs wouldn’t tell them whether he had a concussion or not. Say what you will about whether NHLers are paid to deal with the media, that’s your opinion. But players are still people, and no one in their right mind is going to move from the Florida sun and sand, and relative anonymity to the general public, to having “reporters” that admit to considering stalking you for a picture of what you eat to justify their hit piece.

 

Besides that, Subban for Weber, scary in the short term, laughable in the long term. This is actually a deal that can screw over both Nashville and Montreal. Weber has 4 or so more good years in him before hitting his decline years, after which they have 0 top tier defensemen ready to take over. Whereas Nashville has to worry about Weber retiring and stacking his cap hit on top of PK Subban’s. In the short term though, Weber has a very scary shot, but at least our #1 goalie is already used to facing it. And then Edmonton has traded Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson. Why? Remember the Taylor vs. Tyler debate during Seguin and Hall’s draft year? Well I guess Chiarelli misheard it as Taylor AND Tyler. He has actually traded BOTH the 1st and 2nd picked players in the 2010 draft for underwhelming returns. Adam Larsson will be a decent defenseman, don’t get me wrong. But Taylor Hall is one of the premier scoring left wingers in the NHL. He’s almost a point a game player, and he’s played his career with the OILERS! You’d figure Pistol Pete would have learned his lesson, but I guess not.

 

Now, free agency is coming up, and the Leafs no longer have Steven Stamkos to worry about offering a contract to, so what next? I personally think the Leafs target a defenseman like Kris Russel or Jason Demers. While Matt Hunwick was a good soldier for the Leafs last season, I feel they might want an upgrade there. Alternately, they could offer a contract to Luke Schenn. He would be able to play his game (read: hit things) with a fast defenseman like Jake Gardiner, and he could be a steadying presence for a rover like Connor Carrick. But obviously that is all speculation, and nothing more.

 

It’s getting exciting!

Pre-Frenzy Frenzy

I don’t know what to think of the frenzy before the actual frenzy. Two days from the unofficial start of the 2016-17 season, the hockey world is blowing up with the news that trades went down this afternoon. Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall was first, followed up with PK Subban for Shea Weber. What planet are we living on?

Beginning with the Larsson for Hall trade: This was a one-for-one deal. Edmonton has been a sinking ship for quite some time, so them trading Hall was a complete surprise to me. But on the other hand, shipping someone like a former #1 overall pick was almost as if nobody is safe in the Oilers organization.

But look at this in the perspective of the Oilers, getting Larsson. According to the NHL:

The Oilers have one right-shot defender signed for next season, Mark Fayne. Adam Clendening and Eric Gryba, the other right-shot defensemen who finished 2015-16 with the Oilers, will become unrestricted free agents Friday.

They’re still going to need some help on the blueline, even though they’ve found another right-handed d-man. However: right now, I’m calling this a slight win for the Devils. If Hall can find his place within the top two lines, he’s going to help guide the team and finally get into the postseason. Larsson, on the other hand, won’t be a huge game-changer.25043674321_1d6551a923_n

Then, you had the blockbuster of the day: Subban for Weber: Another one-for-one deal. PK has been, without a shadow of a doubt, one of (if not the only one) the heart and soul players of the Canadiens. So you’re going to trade his huge contract for Shea Weber’s huge contract (who, by the way, I would have penned to be another “I’m staying in this city” player)? It’s a draw right now, with these two. They’re both superior defensemen… I’m just not sure if I can pro and con them right now.

The trade overall, though, seems a little fishy. When I look at their overall starts and break this down further – and watch some of their games – I can figure out a winner. Right now? I can’t.

I’m sorry if this is a ramble and more of a “freaking out” entry. When everyone’s going nuts at the hockey world today, there’s not much you can say. Let me digest everything, go and watch some hockey in October, then give you a better assessment.

Where Does Quebec City Go From Here?

In the end it was probably a personal feud between Pierre Karl Peladeau and Montreal Canadiens CEO Geoff Molson, not the three factors that I listed – the NHL’s greedy expansion fee, the imbalance between the two NHL conferences, and corruption in Canada that has led to a fall in the value of the Canadian dollar, that resulted in Quebec being kept out the NHL. Recently Canada’s Macleans Magazine published an article outlining how Peladeau through his control of media giant Quebecor made personal, political, racist and business attacks on Molson, a key member of the NHL’s Board of Governors.

So long as Molson sits on the Board of Governors and has Commissioner Gary Bettman’s ear, there will be no returned Quebec Nordiques that has any connection with Peladeau. Peladeau made Quebec’s position impossible by his attacks on Molson and then made no attempt to reconcile with him. Also the NHL whose Board of Governors include seven English speaking Canadian city owners plus a few other Canadians who own American teams are not going accept an owner who supports a political party that wants to undermine anglophone influence and rights in the Province of Quebec. Peladeau publicly and politically attacking English Canadians and then sitting down on a Board of Governors acting as their friend is ridiculously absurd.

So where does that leave Quebec City now? They will never get back into the NHL with Quebecor as an owner so long as Peladeau and any similar thinking Quebecor governors remain in control of the company. What are their choices?

1. Peladeau makes a conversion and repentance of his views on the scale of St. Paul’s conversion to Christianity, publicly apologies to Molson and the other NHL Board of Governors and somehow convinces the NHL that he is sincere. Hardly likely.

2. Quebecor rids itself of Peladeau and similar thinking members and becomes a suitable owner in the NHL’s eyes.

3. Quebec finds a suitable owner other than Quebecor. That probably means buying out the management rights to the new arena that Quebecor owns.

4. An ownership crisis ensues in one the NHL’s eastern conference teams that absolutely forces the NHL team owner to sell to Quebecor.

5. An existing NHL eastern conference team moves to Quebec City and Quebec accepts the probable anglophone owner who somehow gets the management rights of the new arena away from Quebecor.

6. A new professional hockey league is started like the old WHA and is willing to accept Quebecor aa a partner.

7. Quebec does nothing and keeps its nose pressed to the glass on the outside looking in, probably for an indefinite period.

The most likely options appear to be 3, 5, and 7, and sadly number 7 seems the likely winner. Throughout the period when talk about a new arena and ownership were discussed, no one other than Quebecor stepped forward to back a new arena and front an ownership bid. It was Quebecor or nothing. The arena is now built but no suitable owner in the NHL’s eyes is on the horizon.

Option 5 appears to be the most hopeful one for Quebec but it at best a long shot. It has been rumored that Carolina Hurricanes’ owner Peter Karmanos is dissatisfied with the team because of its low attendance and would move it to Quebec. For now Commissioner Bettman has shot down all rumors to that effect. And for now he is probably right.

It is true that Carolina’s attendance is down but that is because the team has been terrible in recent years. But there is no reason to believe that if the Hurricanes became competitive once again that the fans will not come back.

Furthermore why would Karmanos choose Quebec with the low Canadian dollar and having to come to terms with Quebecor about the ownership and management of the arena? And rest assured that any deal that would give Peladeau and Quebecor even the smallest foothold in a Quebec team would be immediately rejected by the NHL.

Probably the best thing that Quebec City can do is find another owner to front a new bid and get the management of the new arena out of Quebecor’s hands. The NHL will not accept Peladeau on any terms.

It is sad that Quebec City, probably one of the better franchises in the NHL is being kept out of the league by a personal, racist, and political rivalry that has no place in sport and is breaking the hearts of all Nordiques fans who tried so hard to get the team back.

Personal Feud Is Another Factor Behind NHL’s Rejection Of Quebec

In the wake of the NHL’s rejection of Quebec City’s attempt to get the Nordiques back, it has been reported by Canada’s Macleans Magazine that a personal feud may have played a significant role behind the NHL’s decision to crush Quebec’s dream. It is an ugly feud, political and racist.

It involves two of the Province of Quebec’s leading businessmen, former Quebecor CEO and current majority shareholder Pierre Karl Peladeau and Geoff Molson, President and CEO of the Montreal Canadiens.

When the Canadiens were put up for sale by the previous owner, both Molson Breweries and Quebecor made bids for the team. Molson won and Quebecor vowed to take up the cause of returning the Nordiques to the NHL instead. They became the biggest private backer of both a new Quebec arena and a bid for an NHL team. It seemed that Quebec finally had the complete package to get the Nordiques back that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman demanded; a great fan-base, a proper NHL arena, and a rich, solvent owner.

But the unstable Peladeau virtually ruined Quebec’s chances right from the beginning. First he made public remarks about the suitability of Molson, a Quebec anglophone taking over the Canadiens even though the Molson family had previously owned and operated the Canadiens successfully for several periods of its history. Then Quebecor followed that up by attempting obstruct the business activities of one Molson’s business partners.

Peladeau seemed to have no sense that his actions and remarks could have serious consequences. In fact he made his position absolutely ridiculous. On one hand he is publicly attacking a business rival on racist and political grounds while at the same time attempting to become this man’s partner on a Board of Governors.

Do you think Molson wants to see Peladeau sitting across from him at important NHL Board meetings? Do you think Peladeau would want to see Molson sitting there if the situation was reversed? The situation called for tact and healing and instead Peladeau simply blew it up, taking Quebec’s NHL dreams with him.

And what about NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s role in all of this? First of all, he and the NHL’s other governors do not want to become involved in a personal feud. Nor does he want to admit a man to be on the NHL Board who is going to immediately feud with an existing governor. He is obviously going to back Molson against Peladeau.

Yet here he is hobnobbing with the Quebec City mayor, the Quebec Provincial Premier and other important officials both public and private, encouraging a community to spend $400 million on a new arena, all the while knowing that Peladeau would make an unsuitable CEO of a new Quebec team. What was he hoping for? That Peladeau and Molson would patch things up? That Peladeau would disappear from Quebecor and the media giant would then be a suitable Nordiques owner?

Should he not have warned the Quebec City mayor, the Quebec Provincial Premier, and other important officials both in and out of Quebecor, that Peladeau would not be accepted by the NHL before a single dollar was spent on building a new arena? That the ownership factor of a Quebec team was still not acceptable in the NHL’s eyes.

There is a bitter legacy. Quebec, after trying to fully comply with Bettman’s conditions that he set out in 2010 has spent $400 million on a new arena and gets no team. There will certainly be no returned Nordiques as long as Quebecor is to be the owner or at least as long as Peladeau and any similar thinking Quebecor members control the company. Still worse is that Quebecor owns the management rights of the new arena and would have to either be bought out or the company’s ownership and management be remodeled to be more suitable in the NHL’s eyes.

And so once again in the woeful story of Canadian membership in the NHL are Canadians undermining and preventing other Canadians from joining the league. In the 1970s, it was Canadian Toronto Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard and ex-Canadian Jack Kent Cooke owner of the Los Angeles Kings, who led the fight to keep WHA Canadian teams Quebec, Winnipeg, and Edmonton out of the NHL. In 2016, the names have been changed to Peladeau and Molson.

Final Mock Draft

With the draft rapidly approaching, here is our final draft rankings:

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs – Auston Matthews
  2. Winnipeg Jets – Patrik Laine
  3. Columbus Blue Jackets -Jesse Puljujarvi
  4. Edmonton Oilers – Matthew Tkachuk
  5. Vancouver Canucks -Pierre-Luc Dubois
  6. Calgary Flames – Olli Juolevi
  7. Arizona Coyotes – Mikhail Sergachev
  8. Buffalo Sabres – Alex Nylander
  9. Montreal Canadiens – Logan Brown
  10. Colorado Avalanche – Clayton Keller
  11. New Jersey Devils – Tyson Jost
  12. Ottawa Senators – Max Jones
  13. Carolina Hurricanes – Michael McLeod
  14. Boston Bruins – Jacob Chychrun
  15. Minnesota Wild – Charlie McAvoy
  16. Detroit Red Wings – Julien Gauthier
  17. Nashville Predators – Kieffer Bellows
  18. Philadelphia Flyers – Luke Kunin
  19. New York Islanders – German Rubstov
  20. Arizona Coyotes – Riley Tufte
  21. Carolina Hurricanes – Dante Fabbro
  22. Winnipeg Jets – Brett Howden
  23. Florida Panthers – Jake Bean
  24. Anaheim Ducks -Rasmus Asplund
  25. Dallas Stars – Samuel Girard
  26. Washington Capitals – Libor Hajek
  27. Tampa Bay Lightning – Pascal Laberge
  28. St. Louis Blues – Tage Thompson
  29. Boston Bruins – Alex DeBrincat
  30. Anaheim Ducks – Logan Stanley

 

Same Old NHL Expansion: Same Old Result

The new NHL expansion to Las Vegas and the NHL rejection of Quebec City brought the same result as usual during the Gary Bettman era: The NHL moves into a dubious, potential money-losing city and rejects a hockey-loving city.

Briefly, the many factors that caused the rejection of Quebec City can be grouped under three reasons.

1. The NHL’s greedy expansion terms that scared away almost every potential investor except the fanatical Las Vegas and Quebec City.

2. The imbalance of the Eastern and Western Conferences.

3. The corruption in Canada which has kept Canadian NHL franchises to a minimum, forced down the value of the Canadian dollar from its par value with the American one, a direct reflection on the policies of the Canadian elites that run the country.

When the NHL hired Gary Bettman to be Commissioner, his main mandates as set forth by the Board of Governors was to get a rich American television contract for the NHL by proving that hockey was truly a “Big 4″ sport and to protect the monopoly of existing Canadian teams in Canada.

Bettman’s strategy to get that contract for the NHL was to expand the league into non-hockey-loving American markets all over the United States to prove to the American networks that hockey was an American game. And he managed to get better American television contracts but there were prices to be paid. Every year there have been reports of American franchises losing money, sometimes as many as ten at one time.

During Bettman’s tenure, three hockey-loving cities, Winnipeg, Quebec, and Hartford lost their franchises, two to questionable American markets, Phoenix and Raleigh. Quebec City to Colorado can be counted a draw. Of all the expansion/relocation decisions during his time as Commissioner, only NHL expansion to Minnesota and the return of Winnipeg can be counted as the NHL moving into hockey-loving environments.

The NHL rejection of Canada (and the northern United States) also keeps the monopoly for the existing Canadian teams. They do not have to share Canadian television money, nor face any regional marketing competition. The NHL has vowed stiff monetary penalties for any expansion within a 50 mile radius. Toronto-Hamilton and Montreal versus Quebec versus second Montreal would be great rivalries, guaranteed sell-outs, but pleasing true fans is a low priority with Bettman’s NHL.

What is really galling about this latest decision is Bettman and many of the NHL governors actually wanted Quebec back in the NHL. In 2010, Bettman made a tour of the three cities who lost their teams in the 1990s and stated reasonable terms for readmission; adequate fan base, good ownership, and a proper NHL arena. Winnipeg is already back and Quebec fully complied with his terms (more articles about the various implications of all this to come).

But the fall of the Canadian dollar and the greedy terms of the NHL ruined Quebec’s dream. As early as last year, it was reported that there were four “done deals” for NHL expansion, with potentially more to come crawling out of the woodwork. Probably what Bettman and the Board of Governors had envisioned was that Quebec and three western teams, Las Vegas, Seattle, and either Portland or Houston would join the league, thus balancing up the conferences and allowing the NHL to realign to an NFL structure.

But the NHL’s excessive terms scared away every other potential investor. Of 16 applications for an NHL franchise only fanatical Quebec and Las Vegas accepted their terms. There would be no competition between rival cities, something unprecedented in “Big 4″ expansion history. The business world told the NHL to take a hike. This expansion actually makes the NHL look like a sports laughingstock.

Don’t think that Bettman and the NHL are off the hook by rejecting Quebec at this time. They told a community to build a $400 million hockey facility with its tax dollars and then did not pay up. That’s not going to look good to other cities like Seattle who do not have NHL arenas and who the NHL wants to expand to. Nor does Bettman want to offend valuable contacts like the Quebec City mayor or the Quebec Provincial premier. Most of all, he cannot discourage valuable potential investors like Quebecor. They are in a real jam over this. The NHL cannot get a reputation of being a double-crosser to communities, politicians, and investors.

This story is far from being over. This is just the latest chapter, a chapter of rejoicing in non-hockey-loving Las Vegas and of sadness in hockey-loving Quebec City. The usual Gary Bettman, NHL result.