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.

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.

Quebec City Being Kept Out Of The NHL By Corruption

It is a joyous time to be a hockey fan in Las Vegas and a bitter disappointment to be one in Quebec City. For the latter, the opening of the new Videotron Arena with the acquisition of Quebecor as team owner could not have been timed worse coinciding with a deep drop of the Canadian dollar to only ¾ of its previous value at par with its American counterpart. Had the NHL announced expansion a few years ago and had the new arena been built then, the Quebec Nordiques would already be facing off with the Montreal Canadiens. Now with Canada’s uncertain economy, Quebec expansion is being put on hold – indefinitely.

There are many factors which have been responsible for this sad state of affairs, but the probable main reasons are three:

1. The NHL’s greedy expansion fee.

2. The imbalance of the two NHL conferences.

3. Corruption in Canada and Quebec.

This topic merits many more articles. I have already written many articles on this blog about the ugly impact of the NHL’s excessive terms. Briefly, the large expansion fee scared away almost every potential investor and left the NHL as a laughingstock, with the first “big 4″ expansion with no competition between rival cities. Even with just the Las Vegas expansion, the league is still imbalanced. It was reported many times that there were four “done deals” including Quebec ready to join the NHL. Probably what Commissioner Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors had envisioned was Quebec City and three western cities, Las Vegas, Seattle, and probably Portland or Houston would join the league in two years time, balancing up the conferences and realigning the league to an NFL structure. More about these factors need to be written.

But it is the last factor that is the subject of this article. Once the Canadian dollar radically diverted from the value of its American counterpart, expansion to Quebec City was placed in grave jeopardy. Why is the Canadian dollar down? Why is there a third main factor?

I have used the term “corruption” in articles before in reference to the health care industry’s attempt to conceal a cure for coronary heart disease and its impact on the NHL playoffs. But for this article, corruption is playing a part in bringing down the value of the Canadian dollar.

First it has to stated that the fall of the Canadian dollar is in part caused by factors beyond the control of the Canadian and Quebec governments. The Saudi Arabian Government and governments of other middle-Eastern oil producers decided that they wanted to put certain competitors out of business. They started over-producing oil in such quantities that gas prices are severely down and economies like Canada’s which was primarily dependant on the sale of Alberta oil took a severe pasting. Over-produced oil was the direct reason that the Canadian dollar fell.

But that in turn raises the question about why the Canadian economy is so dependent on oil sales? Why when just one part of the economy ran into severe problems was there nothing to fall back on? Canada is the second largest country in the world in area. Surely with all the resources it can muster, problems with one small but important sector of the economy should not cause the Canadian dollar to lose nearly one quarter of its value.

The Canadian dollar has been down at this level – even worse before. When the recession of the early 1990s occurred, the Canadian dollar fell below 70¢ American and stayed there. It was this factor coupled with the rise of players’ salaries and the inability to build proper arenas, that caused the departure of the original Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets. The Canadian dollar remained in its low state and seemed destined to stay there forever until the United States elected George W. Bush to be President. Bush’s imperialistic policies wrecked the American economy and forced down its currency to be par or lower with the Canadian dollar. The Obama administration has more or less kept the same course. What is important for this article is to note that neither the Canadian Government nor any Provincial government did anything that brought its dollar back to an even keel with the American one.

There have been successful instances of reform in Canada, but mostly at the municipal government level. There was the clean up and build up of Montreal by mayor Jean Drapeau in the late 1950s and 1960s. There was the forced merger of Toronto and its suburbs by the Ontario Provincial Government around the same time that started Toronto on its boom period. But there has been no comparable reform movements at either the provincial of federal level. There is no Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, or Harry Truman in Canadian history.

It has been noted by this author in articles both on this blog and on others of the elitism in Canadian society. Canada has been run on policies to suit its ruling cliques. As noted in many previous articles about the history of NHL Canadian expansion, it has been the policy of Canadian owners in the NHL to keep Canadian franchises to a minimum. The value of the Canadian dollar is a direct reflection of the policies of these elites.

Elitism is no stranger to Canada. It has been around since the days of New France when society was firmly divided into classes, the government officials and seigneurs at the top, and the habitats at the bottom. The British conquest of 1760 more or less kept everything in tact only adding an English version to Upper Canadian society. Things got so bad that two rebellions against elitist government broke out in 1837.

Elitism is by no means gone from Canadian society. Almost every job I would have while I lived in Canada would be tainted by it. There was always someone or a group of people who deemed that certain of their fellow employees were not “good enough” for them and then set out make their lives and employment as miserable as possible. I would quit the one job where I was making the most money I would ever make in my life because an abusive employee made work impossible to continue and I would see similar things done to others over and over again. I would work in government departments where one group of employees took control of all social activities and even made sure that only similar thinking individuals would be hired to perpetuate their monopoly and control.

The ugliest incident I would see occurred after I left Canada, the death of Rehtaeh Parsons who was judged by her fellow classmates to be “not one of them” and then subjected to rape, torment, and humiliation until she committed suicide. And who can forget Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, blamed for his own death by Canadian officials at the Vancouver Olympics despite protests from experienced lugers that Canada had built an unsafe track. In both cases no punishment was handed out either to Parsons’s tormentors or the designers of the luge track.

More tangible is the recent announcement by the Ontario Government that despite the 2015 Pan American Games coming in over-budget, all promised bonuses and perks would still be honored. The Ontario Government itself has undergone a radical transformation during the past decade. It has lost its triple-star credit rating and because of many expensive scandals, now receives subsidies from the Federal Government. Ontario, once consistently the most wealthy province in all of Canada, who subsidized all the poorer provinces, is now a have-not province. As for the Province of Quebec, they have been getting Federal subsidies since before I was born. They have never pulled their own weight.

Of course it is ridiculous to insinuate that the death of two people causes a country’s economy to collapse. What is important is that they are up-front symbols of elitism and its policies. It is beyond my knowledge to know exactly how an economy works but such incidents grouped together add up to a perception that a country is not what it should be and it should not be “valued as an equal”. There are probably too many other similar incidents in contemporary Canada to count. And the perception of that country counts in the value of Canada’s currency.

One of Canada’s hockey myths is that Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL is anti-Canadian which is complete nonsense. In 2010, Bettman made a tour of the three cities that lost their franchises in the 1990s, and stated the terms for readmission; good ownership, a proper arena, and an adequate fan base. He would not open the door to Quebec and Winnipeg again if he was anti-Canadian. More importantly he cannot offend important friends and contacts like the Quebec City mayor or the Quebec Provincial premier. And above all, he wants to be favorable to valuable investors like Quebecor, especially since the rest of the business world has told the NHL with its excessive entry fee to take a hike. Make no mistake, Bettman wants Quebec City back in the league.

But no matter how sympathetic Gary Bettman, or any of the NHL Board of Governors may be, neither they nor Quebecor itself is going to commit economic suicide. Gary Bettman cannot save a country from itself. Making the reforms needed to raise the Canadian dollar probably might offend certain of the elites that run Canada and this the Canadian Government and any Provincial government refuse to do. And so the NHL will not expand to a country that refuses to do anything to improve itself.

Still worse is what could happen in the future. In 2000, the Americans elected a President who wrecked the American dollar. But now in 2016, there are rumblings that Donald Trump might win first the Republican nomination and then the presidency. Once in power, what if Trump – or for that matter Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton – implement policies that strengthen the American economy and dollar? Then the American buck will climb against other currencies, including the one north of the border which has several governments that do exactly nothing to help themselves. What could happen, a 50¢, even 40¢ loonie? That could be serious enough to not only prevent NHL expansion to Canada in the near future but even threaten the existence of the current Canadian NHL teams.

Quebec City with good ownership and proper arena is a virtual winner, one of the better franchises in the NHL. So would a Hamilton team, a second Montreal team, and maybe even a regional Saskatchewan team. But because of corruption in Canada that keeps its dollar at a distance from the American one, such Canadian NHL dreams may never occur. What once seemed a sure thing may have completely disappeared.

Leafs Draft Special: Things Are Happening!

First things first, congrats to Phil Kessel and the Penguins on the Stanley Cup win. I was sure the Sharks would be able to beat the Pens into submission with the rough and tumble Western Conference style game and was clearly wrong on that. It’s nice to see a player that was routinely made into a whipping boy for the failures of the upper management get his due, and hopefully the Toronto media is eating crow. Now, onto the Meat and potatoes.

I saw a lot of scorn for my pick of Tkachuk at #2 for the Leafs in our mock draft here, good thing it doesn’t matter anymore ‘cause lotteries are awesome when you win them. So the first overall pick is pretty much set at this point to be Auston Matthews and should it differ from that Leafs nation’s collective eyebrow will be raised so high the Space Station will be its neighbor. All the trust in the world has been given to Toronto’s management group, but you have to think there would be something seen as critically wrong if #34 doesn’t go #1 to a team that has had a void down the middle since Mats Sundin left the organization. The real question then becomes, what happens with the other 10 draft picks?

 

“In my opinion the leafs would now be better served packaging some picks to move up in the draft to the mid 10’s, or packaging the 30th with a defensive prospect like Percy for a goaltender, someone around 23 to 25, as an upgrade to our current Goaltending depth.” This is the biggest part cut out of the 1st draft of this article, because it’s basically happened. In a move that a lot of people saw coming but didn’t really think would be that smooth or quick, the Leafs acquired Fredrik Andersen from Anaheim for the 30th pick and a 2nd next year and immediately signed him to a 5 year, $25 million contract extension. Andersen is a 6’4 Danish goaltender (first Dane to suit up for the Leafs ever by the way) and completes our Cali goalie bingo card (I know you need 5 for bingo, go with it). He also has 125 games of experience packed into 3 years, which reads better than Vesa Toskala (5 years for 115 games) and Bernier (5 years for 62 games). Andersen has played a starting load in the NHL before, and if anyone knows goalies, it’s Lou Lamoriello.

 

The Leafs picks after the 1st are: 31st, 57th, 62nd, 72nd, 92nd, 101st, 122nd, 152nd, 179th, and 182nd. That’s a grand total of 11 picks in 7 rounds, and 3 in the first 2 rounds. While I expect the Leafs to continue with last year’s general style of draft, going for skill first and positional need second, I don’t see trading down for more picks being on the table this year. The Leafs are at a point in their rebuild where they’ll be able to hit the playoffs consistently starting sometime in the next 2 years, and it would pay to build some chemistry now. I’d be lying if I said I had read everything about some of the later rounds, but I believe the team can make better progress picking up some more established pieces over adding 10 raw prospects to an already talented player pool (Auston Matthews does not count as a raw prospect).

 

Now as for the first 2 rounds, the Leafs biggest organizational need is goaltending depth still, which is unfortunately weak in this draft. And after that it’s the wing. We have a lot of defensive prospects coming down the pipe, and a lot of centers in the organization. Depending on how players slot in, one to two of Nazem Kadri, William Nylander, or Mitch Marner will slot in on the wing in the NHL this year and probably moving forward. Left wing has JVR and… not much else in terms of guaranteed high end players. This can change if either Willy or Mitch shift over in that direction. The leafs are pegged to take Filip Gustavsson with 31, but I could easily see them taking someone like Brett Howden, who put up 24 goals and 40 assists on Moosejaw this year, to be a big bodied presence down that left side. I could also see the Leafs jumping the gun and grabbing Sean Day at 57. Day’s well documented struggles after being granted exceptional status entering the OHL aside, I can see Lamoriello having faith that he can get the big man to dedicate himself better to the game, and the current culture of the Leafs in protecting their players from the Media hounds could appeal to Day, and let him focus more on playing his game than the distractions.

All in all, the Shanaplan is in full swing. The only place I can see the Leafs might be in trouble is the upcoming expansion draft and meeting the still-not-official available player requirements. But that’s more that we’ll need to have enough players to expose to the draft. The Leafs fortunes are looking up, and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

Lake Erie > NBA

It’s not every day that you see a hockey blog reference another sport, such as basketball. But it comes at a time like this, unfortunately.

Spoiler alert for those of you who didn’t watch the NBA finals, for for those who didn’t give a flying anything about it: The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors for the city’s first title since 1964. While that’s a nice headline for casual basketball fans, let me give you a little heads up on Ohio teams and championships – sorry, Cavaliers fans. You missed out on the fun by eight days.

If you’re not a fan of the American Hockey League, then you missed out on a team winning its first Calder Cup in franchise history. 19,665 people packed the Quicken Loans Arena just to watch a minor league hockey team sweep another to sweep the finals. Lake Erie beat the Hershey Bears in front of a packed and pretty much sold-out arena.

What I don’t get is this: Why does the media not do their research? NBA people from ESPN, for example, could have found time during halftime to look up “professional sports titles in Cleveland” and find that an AHL team won before anyone in basketball got their dirty hands on their own trophy. It makes me sick that people are just too naïve to figure this out. If this is what the AHL gets, then it needs better.

I don’t care if you think that the AHL is a minor league or not. It’s just as credible as the NHL or any other professional sports league in America. Players grow and become the next star one level higher. While the NBA has their developmental league, what good is that? Exactly how many times do you hear about call-ups in basketball? Few and far between.

The AHL isn’t like that. Call-ups and sent-downs are common. Players hone their skill in order to stay in the NHL. Franchises may relocate (often), but the goal is still the same.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, folks… But if anyone deserves credit for being the first professional sports team to win a championship in Cleveland since the 60s, it’s the Lake Erie Monsters. Forget you, NBA. You’re nothing but egotists.