Mulroney hints Quebec City’s NHL bid may have to wait

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman tells the media there are no current plans for an arena in Seattle and the NHL is focused on talking with Quebec City and Las Vegas for future expansion.

With a brand new 18,259-seat arena and a fan base salivating at the prospect of a National Hockey League team to call its own, Quebec City would appear to be a slam dunk for an expansion team.

That’s not quite the case, though.

A weak Canadian dollar stands in the way of prospective ownership group Quebecor and its effort to land Quebec City its first NHL team since the Nordiques were packed up and relocated to Denver, Colo., in 1995.

While NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly squashed a rumour that Quebec City was officially out of the running on Monday, Quebecor chairman and former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney acknowledged that the Canadian dollar has hampered his group’s bidding efforts.

Mulroney spoke about the stalled expansion effort on the Normandeau-Duhaime Show on Quebec City’s FM93 radio station Monday.

“Obviously, you know that with the Canadian dollar where it is, it is an extraordinary challenge not only for Quebec, but for all of Canada vis-a-vis the United States,” said Mulroney (transcription via Toronto Sun.) “So we must deal with this reality.”

Mulroney, Canada’s 18th Prime Minister, said talks between Quebecor and the NHL are ongoing, but stressed that nothing is imminent.

“Will it be for tomorrow morning? No, I think not. But I think we are high up on the list of important applications to remember in the future,” said Mulroney.

The Canadian dollar stood at $0.75 US on Tuesday morning.

The Quebec City bid and the Bill Foley-led effort out of Las Vegas are under consideration to land NHL franchises, although it’s been quiet on both fronts.

Foley expressed some disappointment in the speed process last month, telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal “I thought we’d have the team in no time. It just shows you how naive I was.”

For the time being, status quo trumps status “no.”

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