Québec City Sénateurs? Not Yet.

There seems to be some rumbles about something.

Eugene Melnyk, the owner of the Ottawa Senators, died earlier this week and there seems to be some news about the franchise’s future.  A Québec newspaper La Presse reported that a Québec-based media company Québecor and the NHL talked about the possibility of moving five Ottawa Senators home games to Québec City’s next season as a way of testing the city’s interest in the NHL. There is no need to test Québec-area residents who would welcome the NHL with their hearts but there may be some problems with reaching into their wallets and pocketbooks. Québec is a government and tourist town with few Fortune 500 companies. It is not 1979 when the owners of the World Hockey Association’s Quebec Nordiques were invited to join the NHL and were not reliant on corporate loonies. The financially cash strapped Nordiques’ franchise moved to Denver in 1995.

The Ottawa Senators public relations staff said there was nothing to the story. But  Québec Finance Minister Eric Girard confirmed an interest was shown “from both sides” to have Ottawa Senators games held in Québec City while he met with National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman in January. Anthony LeBlanc the Senators president of business operations said there were  discussions but it was only about a joint bid between Ottawa and  Québec backers to host the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship. LeBlanc said the possibility of Senators games played in Quebec City  was brought up by Québec  officials, but the talks went nowhere. NHL Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Postmedia in an email that Quebec government officials raised the possibility but there have not been any further discussions. “There have been expressions of interest made, in part we believe because Québec  is also interested in hosting the world juniors,” Daly wrote. “The discussions to this point have been very preliminary in nature.” There is more to come.

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