NHL: “Quebec is a fabulous market,” says former Hurricanes owner

The name of Peter Karmanos has long been associated with Quebec due to rumors of the Carolina Hurricanes moving. Now that he has sold the dealership to Tom Dundon to stay in Raleigh, the businessman has mentioned his interest in being an investor if an opportunity arises to bring a team back to Quebec City, he said. he entrusted to Journal.

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The 78-year-old businessman has officially been out of the National Hockey League’s fold since June 30, when he sold his remaining stakes with the Hurricanes in Dundon.

The newspaper contacted him a few days ago to get his thoughts on the Quebec market. Mr. Karmanos has long been a member of the select executive committee of the NHL, and he experienced internally the expansion process of 2016 in which Vegas was preferred to Quebec.

However, before answering our questions about the NHL’s opinion on the Old Capital market (see other text), Mr. Karmanos was quick to throw flowers at Quebec City, repeating to several times being interested in an investment in order to bring back a hockey team.

“If I can find strong partners, I would be interested in using this magnificent amphitheater,” he said without being asked. In my opinion, Quebec is a fabulous market and the supporters there are passionate about it. I’m struggling to find a better place right now to set up a National League franchise. My opinion is that the NHL is making a big mistake by still not having a team in Quebec. “

NO TALKING

Before selling 61% of his shares to Tom Dundon in 2018, for an estimated value of $ 440 million, according to the business magazine Forbes, there were many rumors that Mr. Karmanos had had discussions with Quebecor. Rumors that he had categorically denied when he met colleague Stéphane Cadorette at PNC Arena in Raleigh, in April 2016.

Yesterday, he again assured that he had never had a discussion with anyone in Quebec.

“I haven’t spoken to anyone. However, if anyone is interested in speaking, I would be happy to listen. “

EXPANSION OR NOTHING

From what he has seen internally, Mr. Karmanos believes, however, that Quebec’s only chance of regaining a National Hockey League formation will be to obtain it through a new expansion. We must therefore stop looking at Arizona or even Ottawa.

An opinion that differs from current public belief.

“There is no current team that will move, he ruled. If Quebec wants to get a team back, it will therefore be necessary to convince Gary Bettman to proceed with a new wave of expansion. If the NHL agrees to do so, I can guarantee that Quebec will have its team. Houston will be the other. ”

Remember that businessman Tilman Fertitta has already shown interest in bringing a second team to Texas, possibly Houston. Mr. Fertitta’s fortune is valued at $ 6.2 billion, according to Forbes. Among other things, he owns the Houston Rockets in the NBA.

The question remains, however, as to whether the NHL is open to the idea of ​​adding two more teams to its league to bring the number to 34. In an email exchange with The newspaper, NHL Assistant Commissioner Bill Daly reiterated that the League “has no plans for another expansion at this time.”

“The League would have everything to gain by doing it,” added Karmanos. When I was a member of the executive committee, my goal was for the League to reach 36 teams. I was constantly told that there weren’t enough players for that. However, there are plenty of hockey players. ”

The NHL does not use the Old Capital

Quebec is not a weapon of negotiation, assures Karmanos

The Quebec market is not used by the NHL to raise the stakes elsewhere, assures Peter Karmanos.


In 2016, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman preferred to grant a franchise to Las Vegas.

Photo d’archives, AFP

In 2016, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman preferred to grant a franchise to Las Vegas.

Yet that is the impression the National Hockey League has been giving for some time. In 2016, the Bettman circuit had only accepted the candidacy of Vegas for the expansion of the 2017-2018 season, ensuring that that of Quebec had been postponed (deferred).

However, the Old Capital was not even considered during the second expansion process, in which only the city of Seattle was invited to participate.

THE MENACE DE BURKE

It is not only for expansion that Quebec has given the impression of being a negotiating weapon.

In 2017, while the Calgary Flames were trying to come to an agreement with the various levels of government on the financing of a new amphitheater in order to leave the dilapidated Saddledome, the president of the team Brian Burke had once again let the “threat” hover. Quebec ”. When a season ticket holder expressed his skepticism that the team could leave even without a new arena at a conference in Calgary, Burke replied, “You don’t think we can find another place. You tell me that without laughing. Let’s see … Quebec … Oh yes, they have a brand new building that meets the criteria of the National League. Quebec. And you just said we couldn’t move. “

Finally, in 2019, Calgary City Council approved the construction of a new $ 550 million amphitheater.

In short, is Quebec just a simple means of pressure? While he cannot speak for the Calgary Flames, Karmanos assures that the Old Capital was not used during the 2016 expansion process.

“Not at all, not for a single second,” Karmanos said. At the time, the league wanted a team in the West and Quebec is in the East. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the reality. “

AND THE MARKET?

When Quebec City’s candidacy was refused on June 22, 2016, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman mentioned that the decision had been taken on elements “which are beyond Quebec’s control”, citing the fluctuation of the Canadian dollar and the imbalance of associations.

“From an owner’s point of view, this is the only aspect that could still be negative for Quebec. On the other hand, I have a feeling that the market is doing well despite COVID-19, ”adds Karmanos.

A well-rounded CV

Peter Karmanos was part of the inner circle of NHL owners for 27 years.

In 1994, the man who founded the computer company Compuware, with which he made his fortune, bought the Hartford Whalers for $ 48 million. Three years later, in 1997, he moved them to Raleigh, North Carolina to become the Hurricanes.

Karmanos was therefore the owner of the team during the team’s Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2002, as well as during the 2006 Conquest.

Prior to getting involved with the Hurricanes, Mr. Karmanos had been involved in hockey for several years. He notably founded the minor hockey program, Detroit Compuware, which saw several future NHL players pass. He also owned the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Junior League until their sale in 2015.

That same year, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the builder category.

TUMULOUS END

Peter Karmanos has been an influential member of NHL owners, including serving on the prestigious NHL Executive Committee, a group of a few owners with a mandate to guide circuit governors.

However, he lost his seat in December 2016. The commissioner was vague on the reasons for this change, but he had at the same time announced that he had been replaced by the owner of the Canadian Geoff Molson.

This news came on top of a storm that Mr. Karmanos had been plunged into for some time.

Not only were the rumors of a move rife in the Hurricanes’ case, he had also been embroiled in a major legal dispute with his three sons in the previous months.

The latter had brought a lawsuit of more than $ 100 million against their father, accusing him of not having repaid, in 2013, a loan from a limited partnership that he had created with them.

The two parties finally came to an agreement in November.

Karmanos finally sold 61% of the Hurricanes’ stake to businessman Tom Dundon in January 2018, then the rest last June.

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