Entertainment Weekend: Bettman Says No To Québec City

The market is too small to support an NHL team.

The province of Québec Finance Minister Eric Girard got the official news that has been available for years. The National Hockey League has no interest in returning to Québec City. Girard had a virtual meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly looking for a glimmer of hope that the NHL was interested in returning to a market that it had abandoned in 1995 when Marcel Aubut sold his Québec Nordiques franchise to a group that took the business to Denver. Bettman released a statement. “We explained that, while we were appreciative and flattered by the interest expressed, unfortunately, we were not aware of any opportunity that could address that interest at the current time.”

In 1995, Aubut didn’t have a new building and had a currency problem as the Canadian dollar was slipping, bottoming out at 62 cents US. Québec City has a building but remains a small, government town with few corporate loonies to chase. Québec City struck out in 2016 in an effort to get an NHL expansion franchise. Québec City backers got the cold shoulder in 2017 when the National Hockey League invited Seattle investors only to apply for an expansion team. Québec was out in the cold in 2016 and in 2017 and there is no reason to think that Québec will land a team anytime soon. Because the Canadian dollar is worth just 80 cents US, the actual price for Québec City investors to get an expansion franchise or to land a team and move it to the city would likely be more than a billion dollars Canadian and that probably is far too high a figure to make sense for potential Québec City owners. Québec City potential owners had a difficult time getting about $650 million together during the 2016 NHL expansion process. Finances matter.

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Quebec City’s arena.