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.