Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos wants to set the record straight.
“I assure you this team is not going to Quebec,” Karmanos told Le Journal de Quebec. (Quotes translated by Sportsnet.) “I’m not saying that because I have anything against Quebec but because we have commitments here. We have an excellent lease, I love this arena, and I’m deeply attached to this market.”
Karmanos has been seeking a majority owner for the Hurricanes for well over a year but is disgusted by the idea that he is considering moving the club to Quebec, one of two cities that applied for an NHL expansion team.
“People told me about those rumours, but there’s absolutely nothing to them,” Karmanos said. “You guys are the only ones asking me questions about this. The real enigma, whether or not you want to believe me, is to find out who’s starting these rumours.”
The Hurricanes are worth an estimated $225 million, according to Forbes, placing Carolina as the league’s 28th most valuable franchise. Attendance has dipped to a league-worst average of 12,203 fans per game as the Hurricanes missed the playoffs for the seventh straight season — the longest drought of any American franchise.
Karmanos, 73, shot down the rumour that he flew to Quebec in his private plane and met with Quebecor.
“No and no. The last time I stepped foot in Quebec was with one of my kids, who’s in his 40s now, and he was playing peewee hockey at the time. As for Montreal, the last time I went was to see us play against the Canadiens was two years ago. That’s it,” Karmanos said.
The owner said he if he can’t find local buyers, he won’t move the team.
“I’m only going to say that these people are trying to invent a huge story where there isn’t one,” he said.
“It makes no sense. Who could possibly pretend to have seen my plane there when I didn’t go and I don’t even have a plane? Totally false. But if the rumours persist, I’ll try to crush them. There’s no contact with Quebec. Not once, not ever.”