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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Quebec finance minister leaves Bettman meeting with no movement on Nordiques file

The NHL commissioner was “not in a position currently to positively respond to our interest,” Eric Girard says.

Author of the article:

La Presse Canadienne

Pierre Saint-Arnaud

Members of ‘Nordiques Nation’ cheer during the NHL game between the New York Islanders and the Atlanta Thrashers on Dec. 11, 2010 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. Over 1,100 fans from Quebec attended the game to prove their support for an NHL team. Photo by Jim McIsaac /Getty Images files

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the Nordiques to come back to Quebec City.

A virtual meeting between Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard and National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman has not advanced the file any further.

On Thursday, Girard posted on Twitter that the league “indicated it was not in a position currently to positively respond to our interest” in bringing a team back to the provincial capital.

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Rencontre cordiale avec messieurs Bettman et Daly. Nous avons exprimé notre intérêt pour une franchise de la LNH à Québec et démontré que celle-ci serait un atout important pour la ligue.

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— Eric Girard (@EricGirardMFQ) January 13, 2022

Girard, who was given a mandate by Premier François Legault to explore the Nordiques file, described the meeting with Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly as “cordial” and said he expressed the Legault government’s interest in a franchise in Quebec City “and showed that this would be an important asset for the league.”

He said the two parties “agreed to remain in contact and keep communication channels open.”

Girard was originally supposed to meet Bettman in person during a trip to New York to discuss with investors, but the meeting was replaced with a virtual one because of the surging pandemic.

The return of the Nordiques is a dream Quebec City hockey fans have had since the team departed in 1995 to become the Colorado Avalanche. At the time, the team’s president, Marcel Aubut, failed to get a new arena built and the Colisée became outdated and failed to meet the new demands of the league. Aubut also asked for financial assistance from the province, with a casino or lottery to support the team, but the government was not on board.

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The past decade has seen a resurgence of popular support for a return, with the Marche Bleue in 2010, during which thousands of fans gathered on the Plains of Abraham. A new amphitheatre was built, financed half by the city and half by the province. It opened in 2015 as the Videotron Centre, but failed to attract a team, even as the NHL expanded to Las Vegas in 2017 and Seattle in 2021.

Videotron’s owner, Quebecor, acquired naming rights as part of a $33-million deal that would also see it pay $30.5 million more a year if an NHL team moves in. Quebecor owner Pierre Karl Péladeau tried to become the owner of a team.

Despite some teams being in financial difficulty, including the Ottawa Senators, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes, none has moved since the Atlanta Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets in 2011.

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Kaylie Pferten
A pilot of submersible crafts in a former life, now married to my husband David and writing about investment advice.

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