SBD/Issue 21/Franchises

NHL Admits Interest In Returning Teams To Quebec City, Winnipeg

Daly Says NHL Has Interest In Returning
Teams To Supportive Canadian Cities
The NHL "sounds as if it's ready to return teams to Quebec and Winnipeg, with a second team for southern Ontario also under consideration," according to Kevin McGran of the TORONTO STAR. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in an e-mail, "We do have an interest in returning teams to Canadian cities that have hosted and supported NHL teams historically. Both Winnipeg and Quebec City have done that, so we'll see how things transpire. That doesn't mean southern Ontario won't or can't be considered. It will be." McGran noted Daly made the comments after Quebec City Mayor Regis Lebaume said that he and former Nordiques co-Owner & President Marcel Aubut met Friday with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Lebaume said that "more news would come this week, most likely a promise of funding from the city" for a C$250M, 18,000-seat, NHL-sized arena that "could be part of a bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics." Non-profit group J'ai ma place "wants the federal, provincial and city governments to contribute [C$80M] each to the project, with it donating the rest." The governing Quebec province Liberals "have promised" C$50M, and the federal government "has made no promises, but the federal Conservative caucus in Quebec supports the project." J'ai ma place "has sold 70 corporate boxes and has a waiting list for more." J'ai ma place Director General Patrick Bragoli: "Right now there's a small window with the NHL. Clubs are in trouble. So in the last six months our project is moving faster. We're all hockey crazy. We want the NHL to come back to Quebec" (TORONTO STAR, 10/11). Lebaume over the weekend confirmed that he "had held 'an excellent meeting' with Bettman and that he'd received a 'very warm' reception and 'couldn't have expected better'" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/12). ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun said there were "no promises made from the NHL commissioner to these people other than, 'Hey, get the new rink built, ... get the right owner, do you have enough corporate support?' and 'let's continue this discussion.'" The CBC's Al Strachan said putting a team in Quebec City will "take a while," and Winnipeg "is a lot closer" to getting an NHL franchise ("HNIC," CBC, 10/10).

PROMINENT SUPPORTER: Quebecor Media Inc. President & CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau Friday said that he is "keeping up on what teams could become for sale 'if we decide to re-locate teams to Canada,' adding that he was very aware of the financial difficulties facing some American hockey clubs." Peladeau said that while it will "take the involvement of more people to make something this big happen," he noted that his team is "working hard to figure out the 'winning recipe.'" Peladeau: "It's undeniable that forming a group to explore bringing a club to Quebec is desirable." Sources said that Peladeau is "actively searching for partners in [Quebec City] to bring the plan to fruition" (QMI, 10/10).

NOT GIVING UP: The TORONTO STAR's McGran notes RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie's lease agreement with the city of Hamilton "that gives him exclusive rights to an NHL team at Copps Coliseum ends this week," and Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said that "once that takes effect, the city will meet with commissioner Gary Bettman to let the league know about its continued interest in attracting a second team to southern Ontario." Eisenberger: "We have certainly talked over the last few months and we still have an agreement with Mr. Balsillie that's due to expire. Once that happens, we'll be taking the next steps to do more work on what the next iteration for NHL hockey in Hamilton is" (TORONTO STAR, 10/12).

Plight Of The Phoenix: The AP's Andrew Bagnato reported Ice Edge Holdings COO Daryl Jones and Ice Edge investors "have been discussing lease options with Glendale officials with an eye toward reviving their bid for the financially ailing Coyotes, whose sale has been tied up in a complicated bankruptcy proceeding." Jones, who attended Saturday's Coyotes home opener at Jobing.com Arena, said Ice Edge's "intention is to buy the team." Jones said, "The ideal scenario, I think, is that somebody buys the team quickly. Because if not, I think extended uncertainty is just going to lead to poor ticket sales and basically a lot of losses on the business side" (AP, 10/11). Meanwhile, the CBC's Strachan Saturday on "HNIC" said "there's concern about the way" the Coyotes are "being run by some of the other people around the league." Strachan: "Essentially, Bill Daly is running the Phoenix Coyotes and some people around the league are (asking) … who's making the decisions as to what players go where, who's making the decisions as to what the budget is going to be." But Milbury responded, "Bill Daly's not making any hockey decisions." Strachan said Daly is "making financial decisions that affect the hockey team." Milbury: "That's because they're totally out of control in terms of the finances in Phoenix and his responsibility is to make sure they don't go past whatever budget they have internally, which makes sense" ("HNIC," CBC, 10/10).

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