If only Pierre Karl Peladeau had been true to Quebec Nordiques fans… As every die-hard Nordique fan who is longing to get the team back knows, the NHL loves the newly built Videotron arena, is more than happy with the Quebec City fan base and market which stretches half way to Montreal and all the way into the four Maritime provinces. But the NHL Board cannot stand prospective owner Peladeau.
He was a suspect owner in many of the NHL owners’ eyes before he ever applied either to buy the Montreal Canadiens or restart the Quebec Nordiques because of his support for the separatist provincial political party, Parti Quebecois. Then when his company lost the Canadiens to Molson Breweries, he made an inappropriate remark about the new owner of the Canadiens, Geoff Molson and failed to reconcile with him. The situation called for tact, patience, and building bridges. Instead Peladeau merely confirmed the Board’s worst fears about him and made Commissioner Gary Bettman’s rejection of his Quebec Nordiques bid automatic.
Looking back, there is a significant difference between the recovery of the Winnipeg Jets and the attempted recovery of the Quebec Nordiques at the ownership factor. In the period before the Jets came back, Commissioner Bettman and maybe some of the NHL Board members were in constant touch with prospective owners Mark Chipman and Dave Thomson. The NHL had no qualms transferring the Atlanta Thrashers to their ownership and back to Winnipeg. It was obvious that the Board members liked Thomson and Chipman who was subsequently elected to the NHL Executive Committee.
But it was very different during the period up to the last expansion when the Videotron was built. Bettman was seen several times with the Quebec City mayor and the Quebec Provincial Premier, but not Peladeau. When any announcement is made from Quebecor about the Nordiques situation, it comes from Board member, ex-Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Peladeau, who would be the principle governor on the NHL Board if the Quebecor bid was accepted seems to have no direct personal contact with anyone connected with the NHL, understandable given his relationship with Geoff Molson. He is someone to be avoided and not spoken about.
But even if Peladeau did not make any remarks about Molson and took his Canadiens defeat with good grace, the NHL would be wise to avoid him. He is simply too inconsistent to be trusted by the NHL, Quebec Nordiques fans, or even the most committed Quebec separatist. His actions belong in the realm of absurdity. There is no logic behind obstructing the business activities of a colleague of a business rival, then make insensitive racial remarks about him in public, remarks that probably offended not only Molson, but other members of the NHL Board, and then seek to become a business partner on that same Board whom he has offended.
But it is not only in business that Peladeau is absurd, his political actions are completely incongruent. Here is a man claiming to be a supporter of a political party dedicated to restricting minority rights in Quebec and taking the province out of Canada. So what does this “separatist” do? He invests in Canada by buying the Sun Media Chain. Now he has employees of all kinds of nationalities right across Canada helping to make profits for his company. He is responsible for their welfare. Now he probably has to speak in English every day.
And if the Parti Quebecois whom he claims he supports does succeed in making Quebec a sovereign state, what will happen to the economy of the rest of Canada and the status of his enlarged company? His profits could take a nose-dive along with his rich life-style. This “separatist” has every reason to oppose the goals of the Parti Quebecois. His company’s future health is tied up in the prosperity of a united Canada and any action like restricting minority rights in Quebec still further, stirring up more separatist turmoil, or even planning another referendum is going to affect the prosperity of Canada and his profits.
So why would the NHL want such an inconsistent owner on its Board? They want someone they can believe in and trust. Why would any Quebec Nordiques fan want him as an owner? Why would any separatist voter support an investor/candidate who has made such a large financial commitment to Canada?
Who is Pierre Karl Peladeau? A separatist? A Quebec nationalist? A Canadian investor and businessman? Nobody knows and probably it is wise, like the NHL not to try and find out.