If we were to listen to people around Quebec, they would already have the Nordiques back playing starting next season. As we know however, nothing can be further from the truth. While one cannot blame fans and media for still being upset about losing their franchise to Colorado several years ago, we must keep in mind the reality of an eventual return of the NHL to the Capital City.
Everything points towards Quebec getting its franchise but for some reason, there seems to be a glitch preventing them from getting an expansion team. Many like myself think that the poor value of the Canadian dollar is a major factor at this point but there is much, much more involved preventing the league act immediately.
As it stands right now, the NHL has 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and only 14 in the Western Conference. The league’s biggest need is in the West and while it made some sense to send Winnipeg to that conference, Quebec simply can’t. As a matter of fact, when the league allocates a team to them, they will be in the same division as long time rivals, the Canadiens.
As only Quebec and Las Vegas have arenas and pre-sales of seasons’ tickets, Sin City has the advantage because they are located out west and that’s why they will be awarded the first expansion team to start activities as soon as the 2017-2018 season. The T-Mobile arena can accommodate 17,500 hockey fans in its venue and it is crucial for Gary Bettman to be the first major league sports franchise in town in order to gain a fan base immediately, before Major League Baseball or the NBA decide to look at that option. I woudn’t be shocked if an announcement was made during the upcoming playoffs.
Further, in spite of what Gary Bettman and Bill Daly are saying, the NHL wants to expand in Seattle and that would be their second highest priority. Located in the Pacific North-West, Seattle is a natural for a hockey team. It is relatively close to Canada and would, for that reason, attract some Canadian fans when their teams are playing there. Also, it would allow for a balanced league with 16 teams in each Conference. Unfortunately though, while six different groups had shown interest in bringing hockey there, none of those groups had a solid plan to build an arena on time for the deadline set by the NHL. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not working on one.
As rumours swirl around the NHL, particularly in Quebec, about a possible move by the Carolina Hurricanes to Quebec, allow me to doubt those reports. While many people have spent countless hours and put in many efforts to investigate those reports to the point of going public with them, something just doesn’t seem to add up.
Think about it. How much effort has Gary Bettman and the NHL put into keeping a dying franchise in Phoenix and that, in spite of not even having a suitable owner? The league even owned the team for a few years in order to keep a team in this non-traditional hockey market so what makes people think for a minute that that same Bettman would be so quick at pulling the plug on Carolina, a hockey market who has won a Stanley Cup, a franchise which was drawing fans when winning?
It’s okay to want a team but desperation cannot overcome logic, in my opinion. Yes, the NHL will eventually return to Quebec City but it is doubtful that the league will jump the gun on Carolina too quickly. Fans and media in Quebec will have to be patient… a task harder said than done.