Return of the Nordics: nothing to rekindle hope

Even in front of the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, Gary Bettman went there with his usual refrain, today, concerning the return of an NHL team in Quebec. The League says it is not aware of “an opportunity” that could meet the interest of the government for the moment.

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Finance Minister Eric Girard, nicknamed

Photo d’archives, Stevens LeBlanc

Finance Minister Eric Girard, nicknamed “the Minister of the Nordics” would have liked a more conclusive interview with the NHL authorities today.

At the end of the virtual meeting of barely an hour, Mr. Bettman and his right-hand man, Bill Daly, said they were “flattered” by the interest shown by Quebec, which was also represented by Mr. Girard, Pierre Côté.

“We had a cordial meeting with Messrs Girard and Côté this morning, during which they once again expressed Quebec’s passion for hockey and Quebec City’s deep interest in the return of the NHL,” said let the commissioner and his deputy know in a joint statement.

“We appreciate that the lines of communication between the two sides have been refreshed,” they added, “and we have agreed to stay in touch if circumstances change. ”

Often heard

These remarks have been repeated many times by the bonzes of the NHL, in particular in front of the journalists, since the possibility of the return of the Nordiques began to emerge, about ten years ago (see quotes below).

The cities of Las Vegas and Seattle meanwhile got their squad through expansion process, while the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg.

Houston has also been added to the list of cities contending for a National League club for some time.

“An important asset”

Mr. Girard today corroborated the statements of MM. Bettman and Daly. On Twitter, he declared that “the NHL has greatly appreciated our approach and indicated that it is not in a position at the moment to respond positively to our interest”.

He added that he demonstrated during the meeting, which was initially to be held in New York, that a team in Quebec “would be an important asset for the league”.

The Minister of Finance has been nicknamed “the Minister of the Nordics” since François Legault announced in November that he had appointed him to lead the case for the return of an NHL concession to Quebec.

Critical opposition

This meeting held in the heart of the fifth wave of the pandemic was decried by the opposition parties in Quebec.

Liberal MP and former NHL hockey player Enrico Ciccone questioned the government’s priorities.

“Don’t get me wrong here, but … where are your priorities @ & $ & @?” [propos non parlementaires]. So find a safe way to bring our young people back into sport instead, ”he denounced on Twitter.

“While the load shedding is reaching critical levels and our health network is at the end of its rope, the CAQ is devoting its energy to hockey. This is not a meeting that Minister Girard should be bragging about at the moment, ”said Ruba Ghazal, finance spokesperson for
Québec solidaire.

Quebecor reacts

The Quebecor group, an early player in the return of the Nordiques, for its part said “very happy that the government of Quebec has taken the initiative to hold a meeting with the NHL and to contribute to the efforts already made. to bring a team back to a major hockey fan market ”.

“We are still interested in returning the Nordiques to Quebec and investing in an NHL franchise,” he reiterated. The people of Quebec deserve this team and with the Center
Videotron, a world-class amphitheater, we will be ready to welcome them. “

– With the collaboration of the Parliamentary Bureau, Nicolas Lachance

A refrain often heard

Over the years, Gary Bettman and Bill Daly have repeatedly stated that they have no concession to offer to Quebec, whether through a move or an expansion, while affirming that the National Hockey League remains in tune with what the City and investors had to offer.

The newspaper listed some examples.

“We have frequent contact with Quebec. They are still interested in a National Hockey League franchise. We are not in a position to promise them one at the moment, but the dialogue certainly continues. “

– Bill Daly, January 26, 2019

“Once the City decided to build a new arena, we kept telling them that we couldn’t promise them a team. […] That said, that does not mean that Quebec will never get a team. Only, we did not make a commitment to find one for him. I am very comfortable with our position. “

– Gary Bettman, November 18, 2017

« […] a lot of people are showing interest, whether it’s for a team in Quebec City, Seattle, Las Vegas or Kansas City. We’re listening. However, we have not initiated any process regarding potential expansion. It is not something we are thinking about now, but we are listening. “

– Gary Bettman, le 22 avril 2014

“No one has yet decided whether or not we are interested in a future expansion team. Several cities, including Quebec, dream of it. We received interest, but no decision was made. We listen. We have not started an official process to have a new team. When people want to talk to us, we listen. “

– Gary Bettman, December 10, 2013

“We are not talking about expansion because we are not planning any expansion. […] We received [des demandes] from Quebec, Seattle, Kansas City, Las Vegas, southern Ontario, Saskatoon and even Halifax. […] We don’t like to move a team and currently there is no team available. Maybe someday the circumstances will cause there to be one, but right now there is no concession available to anyone. “

– Gary Bettman, in February 2012

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