Last month there was an article published in The Hockey News and on their website recounting Quebec City’s misery at seeing Las Vegas start its new team while their city still has its nose to the NHL glass looking in. The article argues that Quebec City is prepared to be patient and wait until the day that the NHL relents and opens its doors to them.
The article goes on to lament the tragedy of unfamiliar Las Vegas getting a team while hockey mad Quebec suffers. It also makes mention of the “official” NHL excuse, the low Canadian dollar. It exalts the virtues of the city, lists all its advantages including its increased population of over 800,000, its beautiful arena, the Videotron, and the “stable ownership that won’t flinch”.
That potential ownership is Quebecor, a media giant owned and operated by Pierre Karl Peladeau. Quebecor also happens to own The Hockey News. For that reason the article declines to mention the REAL reason Quebec City does not have a team: The owner is unsuitable to the NHL.
In 2010, when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made his tour of Quebec and the other two cities that lost their NHL franchises in the 1990s, he listed three conditions of readmission to the league; fan base, arena, and ownership. Quebec City has always had a great fan base and the NHL loves the Videotron which they have rewarded with a World Cup exhibition game and Montreal Canadiens preseason exhibition games each year.
That leaves the ownership factor as the reason for Quebec City being out of the league. Initially when Quebec was turned down by the NHL, I believed the league’s “official” excuses; the low Canadian dollar and conference imbalance. But after doing more research sometime later for another article on the Quebec City situation, I came across an article in Maclean’s Magazine explaining Pierre Karl Peladeau’s relationship with the NHL. I immediately discarded the fictitious reasons the NHL gives and what I had believed.
The article amply explained the real reason Quebec City’s bid was officially “deferred”. Peladeau has made many enemies on the NHL Board, particularly Montreal Canadiens owner, Geoff Molson, to whom he lost the Montreal Canadiens to in a bidding war. Briefly in one sentence, the NHL is rejecting Peladeau because of his public, inappropriate racial remarks about Molson, his pro-separatist provincial politics, his obstructionist business tactics, and his general untrustworthiness. Now ask yourself, if someone came to you with a cheque for half a billion dollars would you put it on hold and “defer” it?
You won’t unless you have a valid reason for doing so. The NHL will not tolerate a public racist on the Board. The damage he or she could do far outweighs whatever money he or she is offering. It was an easy decision for the NHL to reject Peladeau and invent excuses like low Canadian dollar and unbalanced conferences to cover things up. He is unacceptable to the NHL as the owner for both Montreal and Quebec City.
So one of his subsidiaries, The Hockey News publishes a recent article extolling the virtues of a Quebec NHL team, the suffering and patience of the fans as they accept some fictitious “plan B” by the NHL and makes no mention of Peladeau’s public racist insults about Molson and the other reasons why the NHL rejected him. It’s a clever way of pinning the blame for the cruel treatment of Quebec on the United States and “English Canada”. But then, isn’t that what the separatists always do?
And while I am writing an article debunking myths, here’s another one that should be refuted. When Quebec was turned down, some websites reported that Quebec was being rejected in favor of Las Vegas, implying that the two cities were competing against each other. That’s rubbish. The two cities were never competing against each other. The NHL wanted both expansion fees, making the profit an even billion. Las Vegas never got its new team at the expense of Quebec.
In fact the last NHL expansion was a failure. Before the $500 million entry fee was revealed, it was being reported in the media and on many websites that there were four “done deals” already sewn up for the NHL; second Toronto and Seattle as well as Quebec and Las Vegas. To only get one quarter of the potential new franchises was a major slap in the face to the NHL. They obviously wanted Quebec AND more franchises.
These fictitious arguments and lamentations only confuse things, but Bettman was clear. Quebec and Hartford (and every future NHL expansion team) will get back into the NHL if they have a great fan base, a proper NHL arena, and an acceptable owner. And only when they meet ALL these conditions will they be accepted. There is no “plan B”. Until they fully comply, forget it.