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.