Daly: Quebec politics won’t influence expansion

Deputy Commissioner and chief legal officer of the NHL Bill Daly. (Mark Blinch/CP)

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Pierre Karl Peladeau’s decision to run for the Parti Quebecois doesn’t impact the NHL’s position on potentially putting an expansion franchise in the province, the league said Tuesday.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he started getting calls Sunday night about Peladeau running for the sovereigntist party in the upcoming provincial election.

Peladeau has been one of the key figures in efforts to bring an NHL team back to Quebec City with his Quebecor Inc. purchasing the naming and management rights to a new arena where a team would be based.

After Peladeau announced he was entering politics — proclaiming he wants to help make Quebec an independent nation — former prime minister Brian Mulroney emerged Monday as a new key person to lobby for another incarnation of the Nordiques.

Daly said the league has been monitoring the situation from the general managers meeting in Boca Raton and that, at this point, the political landscape in Quebec has little effect on the NHL or its plans.

“What I’d say at this point, I don’t think it plays a role at all in our process,” Daly said. “I don’t want to suggest we have a (formal expansion) process — in anything we’re thinking. I wouldn’t view it as a negative or a positive.”

Commissioner Gary Bettman and Daly have said repeatedly that the NHL has no formal expansion plan in the works. But that hasn’t stopped speculation about Quebec City or other cities, like Seattle, jockeying for a franchise.

Asked specifically about Peladeau running for office, Daly said the league hadn’t given the situation “any independent thought.”

“But I don’t think his announcement really impacts us at all in a negative or a positive way,” he added.

Mulroney, who is vice-chairman of the Quebecor board, has been involved in the hockey file right from the beginning. According to Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume, he and Bettman share a mutual respect.

Labeaume also insisted that Peladeau’s involvement in politics would have no effect on any return of the Nordiques, who began as a World Hockey Association team in 1972 before switching to the National Hockey League in 1979.

The team moved to Denver in 1995 and was renamed the Colorado Avalanche.

The estimated $400-million cost of a new arena is split 50-50 between the province and Quebec City — a deal that was supported by the PQ before the 2012 provincial election.

Meanwhile, Daly also addressed the falling Canadian dollar, which has slipped to 90 cents US. That could make next year’s salary cap less than the projection of just over US$71 million. The cap is calculated based on projected revenues from this season.

“Obviously the value of the Canadian dollar has an effect on the cap, ultimately,” Daly said. “It’s probably not as large an effect as people might think. But depending on what happens with the dollar between now and June at the time we have to set the cap and what that does to year-end revenues and projections for next year, it’ll have an effect. It shouldn’t be that major, though.”

The NHL has converted all revenues to U.S. dollars since the 2005-06 season, which helps guard against fluctuation and provides uniformity.

Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi told the Los Angeles Times recently that he believed the cap would be closer to US$68 million because of the Canadian dollar. Daly didn’t believe that was accurate, at least as of this point.

“We have not done projections since December, so we haven’t even looked at the effect of the Canadian dollar, so I’m — to a certain extent — speculating,” he said. “But I don’t think it has an effect more than one to two million dollars, tops.”

— With files from Nelson Wyatt in Montreal

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