Quebec City Back In The NHL? Follow The Path Of Foley, Thomson, And Chipman

So Quebec City is still stuck at the ownership factor after more than a year. Off and on for this past time, I have been writing about the Quebec situation and its absurdity. How Las Vegas that hardly knows hockey and has never had a major league team in any sport and has a smaller arena can get an NHL franchise easily while fanatical hockey bed Quebec City is still on the outside looking in.

Is the problem the “anti-Canadian” NHL led by insensitive American majority Board members fronted by an American “anti-Canadian Commissioner? Is it the greedy owners of the 7 Canadian franchises who don’t want to share the Canadian market and Canadian television money with Quebec City and can’t be reigned in? Is it NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s “traditional” policy of awarding expansion and relocation teams to strange “non-hockey” American markets in order to impress American television networks to get a better contract while ignoring fanatical markets in Canada and the northwestern United States?

The answer is “no”, especially in the case of Quebec City. Bettman himself is not anti-Canadian though most Canadians like to cling to it for comfort as a Canadian myth. In 2010 he made a tour of the three cities that lost their franchises, laid out terms for readmission, and invited them back if they met those conditions. And when he went to Edmonton to see its new arena for the first time, he was so impressed he wants to give the city an All Star Game and an NHL Draft session. That’s hardly the decisions of an anti-Canadian.

And the NHL loves the new Videotron that Quebec City built. Upon its opening, they awarded Quebec an exhibition game of the World Cup. Montreal, owned by the supposedly “anti-Quebec” Geoff Molson wants to keep playing preseason exhibition games there until Quebec City gets the Nordiques back. It’s obvious that the NHL loves Quebec City, its market and arena. They WANT the Nordiques to return. But they will not tolerate an owner like Pierre Karl Peladeau.

Videotron

Just to recount, Peladeau lost a bidding war to Geoff Molson to own the Montreal Canadiens and then publicly declared that Molson was unsuitable to own the Canadiens because he was an Anglophone Quebecer. Then he obstructed the business dealings of a colleague of Molson’s in some matter. He dabbles in pro-separatist provincial politics. Finally, he is simply untrustworthy; he is absurd. How can he think to get on a Board Of Governors when he publicly insults one of its members with a racist remark, a remark that probably not only offended Molson but many other Board members? Even a separatist cannot trust him because he invested in Canada by buying the Sun Media chain. The NHL wants somebody reliable, somebody they can believe in as an owner, so they are going to stay away from Peladeau.

MolPel

No, if you want an expansion/relocation NHL team, you follow the path of Bill Foley, Dave Thomson, and Mark Chipman who are the latest members of the NHL Board. The NHL is prepared to forgive and overlook a lot of sins if you have a good owner. Just for the record, Foley is the owner of the new Las Vegas Golden Knights, and Thomson and Chipman were the owners who acquired the Atlanta Thrashers and brought Winnipeg back into the NHL. With good owners, Gary Bettman and the NHL Board were even prepared to ignore the small size of the Winnipeg arena.

Ownership is a critical factor along with an arena and fan base. When Thomson and Chipman were lobbying to get Winnipeg its Jets back, they were often seen in the company of Bettman and members of the NHL Board. It helps to be the richest man in Canada like Thomson and be wealthy like Chipman, but both of them went out of their way to make themselves popular with the NHL Board. It was obvious that when Atlanta got into trouble, the Board and Bettman kept Chipman and Thomson in the back of their minds and that made it easy to transfer the team to them and return to Winnipeg after no investor appeared to keep the team in Atlanta. And Chipman is so popular, he (along with Molson) has been elected to the NHL Executive Committee.

Foley is also a popular choice. There were (and still are) doubts about whether Las Vegas has a suitable fan base, but nobody has doubted Bill Foley’s enthusiasm for the NHL. The NHL has been a flop in Phoenix but they are willing to take a chance on another desert team because of Foley. If he makes Vegas a success, look for him to be elected to the Executive Committee at a later date.

In contrast, Peladeau alienated the NHL Board. When the Videotron was being built, Bettman was often seen in the company of the provincial premier, the Montreal mayor, and other important local officials, but not Peladeau. And when any spokesman from the company was called to comment on how things were going, it was former Canadian prime minister, Brian Mulroney. For any new franchise, the NHL Board wants an owner whom they can work with, and trust and believe in.

For now, Quebec City rests in “deferred” suspension, until a suitable owner is found. It’s sad that the best city in North America without an NHL team, a city with a market the NHL believes in, with a new arena that the league (including Geoff Molson) loves, one that had the best rivalry in the NHL with Montreal, has to wait because no acceptable owner has appeared.

 

Peladeau: From The Unreal World Of North American Professional Sports

Most fanatical sports fans naively accept the unreal world of big time professional sports where players, owners, officials, media, and management dwell apart from everyone else. One where there is no 9 to 5 job just to survive. One where million dollar contracts get turned down because it is not enough. One where even the smallest trinket cost far more than it should because it has a sports logo printed on it. One where wealthy men who have more than enough money get expensive facilities built for them at public expense. One where a city like St. Louis which supported its football team gets stripped of its NFL franchise simply because it is not as wealthy or populous as Los Angeles.

Occasionally there are events and people that make even the most naive fanatical fan step back and scratch their heads in disbelief. And for me at least, so far this year in professional hockey, that person is would-be Montreal Canadiens-Quebec Nordiques owner, potential bigoted Quebec politician Pierre Karl Peladeau, majority owner of the failed Quebecor bid that tried to revive the dormant Quebec Nordiques. When one thinks about what happened too closely like I did, one is simply dumbfounded.

In light of what happened one has to wonder whether Peladeau was ever really sincere about owning the Canadiens or reviving the Nordiques. And if I were the most bigoted separatist, Quebecois, he would not get my vote on the grounds of sheer waste and stupidity.

Peladeau, at the time the CEO of media giant Quebecor, wanted to give the company a stronger presence in the Province of Quebec and going into professional hockey seemed to him to be a good way of getting publicity and attention. First he tried to buy the Montreal Canadiens and when that failed, turned his attention to the dormant Quebec Nordiques and their arena problem.

When he tried to buy the Canadiens, he found himself competing against Molson Breweries, a company long associated with NHL, who had previously successfully owned the Canadiens for a significant part of their history and who had a family member, Senator Hartland Molson, enshrined in the Hockey Hall Of Fame. Peladeau would already be a suspect investor to a significant number of the NHL Board of Governors because he was a known supporter of the separatist Parti Quebecois but he virtually doomed any chance he had of joining that body by publicly denouncing Geoff Molson as unsuitable to own the Montreal Canadiens because he was an anglophone Quebecer after Molson Breweries became the new owner of the Canadiens.

Nevertheless without publicly apologizing to Molson or trying to reconcile with him, Peladeau submitted a bid to be the owner of a Quebec City expansion franchise. Thus you have the unreal, totally illogical situation of a man denouncing another man on racial grounds while at the same time trying to become his business partner on a Board of Governors. Fat chance of that happening. Commissioner Gary Bettman was bound to support Geoff Molson and it was an easy decision to reject Peladeau who was odious to not only Molson but probably to the other six Canadian franchise owners and the majority of the English speaking American ones. The NHL wants nothing to do with an investor who makes public, insensitive racial remarks, who may end up feuding with many of the other governors, and create a bad image for the league, no matter how much money he has to spend. The situation called for tact and healing and by his public condemnation of Molson, Peladeau showed that he could not be bothered to have any of those qualities. So rejecting him and his money was an easy decision for the NHL.

One of the clauses of the NHL’s expansion terms was a $10 million “consideration fee” of which $8 million was refundable if the bid was turned down. So unless Peladeau was totally naive and inexperienced about these matters, thinking that money would always do the talking and that he could say anything about anybody and get away with it no matter what the potential consequences might be (which I doubt), he gave away $2 million in assets for what he knew would be nothing.

Now I am not a poor man but I sure do not have a spare $2 million lying around that I can just give away like Peladeau did. And do you know where a nice chunk of that $2 million will go? You guessed it, right into the pocket of the unsuitable Geoff Molson. I’m sure he’ll be prepared to suffer more diatribes from Peladeau in return for similar compensation.

Well separatist, Quebecois voters, is this the man you want to be your representative in the Quebec Legislature? Someone who cuts his own throat and dooms his own cause before a single shovel is dug to build the new Quebec City Videotron? Someone who betrayed the hopes of every Quebec Nordiques fan? Someone who might give away $2 million or more of your hard earned tax dollars for nothing? Someone who makes unnecessary powerful enemies like Molson and maybe every other governor on the NHL Board? Someone who will sure attract American and English Canadian tourism and investment to your province like a smelly skunk?

Most Quebecois separatists claim that they are hard working, neglected people who want to get out of Canada, people who always get the short end of the stick from “English Canadians”. Well one of your number just gave away $2 million for what he knew would probably amount to nothing, including a portion of it into the pocket of someone he may regard as his archenemy. Unless there is some brilliant strategy in all this that has yet to show itself, that I am unaware of, it sure is a funny way of demonstrating one’s competence before voters.

Meanwhile the NHL is publicly pretending that they turned down Quebecor’s bid because of the low Canadian dollar and the small Quebec City market. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are rejecting $500 million because Peladeau is an unsuitable owner.

Make no mistake Gary Bettman and every NHL governor wants that expansion money. They want Quebec City back in the NHL. Bettman is not going to make a tour in 2010 of the three cities that lost their teams in the 1990s, Quebec, Winnipeg, and Hartford, and offer them terms for readmission and then reject one of them when it complies with him. He is not going to hobnob with the Quebec City mayor and the Quebec Provincial Premier, tell them to spend nearly $400 million tax dollars on an arena, and then make a fool of them by turning them down. His own reputation and that of the NHL is on the line.

Right now behind the scenes he is trying to find a suitable owner for a Quebec City team. I am betting on Mario Lemieux or someone similar to be that man. I think that once Bettman realized that Peladeau was unsuitable, he went to Lemieux and asked him to sell his shares in the Pittsburgh Penguins and then front a bid to be the new Nordiques owner. Time will tell if I am right.

Meanwhile I just shake my head in disbelief when I think of how Peladeau can give away $2 million for nothing and not blink an eye. Hey Pierre, you can call me a chimpanzee or worse so long as I get the same amount of money you gave to your archenemy Geoff Molson. You really do belong in the world of North American professional sports where such unreal things happen all the time.

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.

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.