Initially, I believed the public explanation the NHL gives when explaining why the bid from Quebecor to own a returned Quebec Nordiques team was turned down; that the league conferences were unbalanced and that the Canadian dollar was low against the American one.
But after doing some research on the Internet, I came upon an article published in Canada’s Maclean’s Magazine which stated that the majority owner of Quebecor, Pierre Karl Peladeau had made some bad enemies on the NHL Board Of Governors.
Chief of these was the new owner of the Montreal Canadiens, Geoff Molson. His company, Molson Breweries had owned the Canadiens before and when they were put up for sale by the previous owner, he engaged in a bidding war with Quebecor to own the team again. Molson won and Peladeau thereupon made an inappropriate racist remark about Molson concerning his suitability about owning the Canadiens because he was an anglophone Quebecer. Shortly after his failed bid, Peladeau then announced that he and his company would pursue a bid to bring the Quebec Nordiques back to the NHL.
Peladeau was already a suspect owner in the eyes of many of the NHL Board because he was a known backer of the separatist provincial political party, Parti Quebecois, and his remark about Molson probably not only offended Molson but the majority of other English speaking owners, Canadian and American alike. His remark only confirmed their worst fears about him. Peladeau has neither retracted his remark nor apologized to Molson.
Immediately upon reading this article, I discarded the official versions that the NHL was offering for rejecting the Quebecor bid. You do not turn down a $500 million expansion fee without good reason. Peladeau is simply not an acceptable owner in the NHL’s eyes and the league is quite willing to live without Quebec until a suitable owner is found. The league cannot afford to have a public racist on its Board of Governors. Peladeau’s remark doomed any bid by Quebecor long before a single shovel began breaking ground for the new Videotron arena in Quebec City.
Since then I have written numerous articles on this blog stating that the possibility of Peladeau’s ownership is the real reason Quebec City failed to get the Nordiques back. Now comes positive proof that I was right. Recently the NHL held elections to fill two vacancies on its Executive Committee and Mark Chipman of the Winnipeg Jets was chosen along with Geoff Molson.
Such elections are usually minor events that only people within the NHL pay close attention to. But in this case Quebec Nordiques fans should pay close attention. It proves my contention made in several articles written for this blog that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL Board would back Geoff Molson to the hilt. They knew he could not stand to see Pierre Karl Peladeau as a member of the NHL Board and have acted accordingly. And since Peladeau made no attempt to reconcile with Molson and the other Board members he offended, he took down the dreams of every Quebec Nordiques fan (Right across Canada too. The Nordiques probably have fans in every province.) with him. One wonders if he was ever really sincere about returning the Nordiques. His action of publicly denouncing a man on racial grounds and then seeking to become his business partner on a board of governors is the height of absurdity.
Fortunately for Nordiques fans, while Molson may be anti-Peladeau, he is not anti-Quebec. He wants the Montreal-Quebec rivalry to return and he wants his share of that $500 million expansion fee. If an appropriate owner can be found he will support a returned Nordiques to the NHL.
But his election to the Executive Committee of the NHL confirms the real reason why Quebec currently does not have the Nordiques back. The NHL wants Quebec City, not Peladeau. I suspect that Gary Bettman is currently working behind the scenes trying to find a suitable ownership group. How long that will take and if it is possible is still to be determined.