An NHL team coming to Quebec was back in the news this week, but it might not be anything more than a pawn in a game of political football.
"There's smoke, we'll see if there's fire," Sportsnet's Jeff Marek said Saturday on the 32 Thoughts segment on Hockey Night in Canada.
Quebec premier Francois Legault said this week on RDS that his government will be holding meetings with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about having a team in Quebec. Presumably, the team would play in the Videotron Centre, which currently houses the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL but was finished in 2015 with the NHL in mind with a capacity of 18,259.
"So, a couple of things," Marek said. "The premier talked about soliciting Quebec investors to form a consortium so it's not just one group that would bring the Nordiques back, and they also discussed how the government may consider investing their own capital in the project as well, this probably in the neighbourhood of a billion dollars.
"We'd love to see the Nordiques back ... of course we would, but as people have mentioned to me, keep in mind here we're one year out of another provincial election and the campaigning may have already begun. Hockey is always a hot-button issue, sometimes it's a hot potato, we expect it to be very much over the next 11 months.
"But you have to check it out. So, I texted with Bill Daly this morning, the deputy commissioner of the NHL, and he said a couple of things. He said: Yes, we did talk over the phone. No, we don't have any meetings planned right now. Yes, we are always interested in meeting and talking but, quote, 'We are obviously pleased with what we have right now.' We'll see where this thing heads."
The Quebec Nordiques, of course, relocated to Denver and became the Colorado Avalanche for the 1995-96 season. In their first season in Denver, the Avalanche, with Patrick Roy in net, swept the Florida Panthers to win the Stanley Cup.
Metallica played the first-ever concert at the Videotron Centre, on Sept. 16. The arena has also hosted the famous Quebec International Pee-Wee hockey tournament since 2016.