The National Hockey League appeared unfazed by the announcement that Quebec City plans to begin building an 18,000-seat, $400-million NHL-style rink in September.
Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume stated on Sunday that the new multi-functional arena will be located on the site of the old Hippodrome harness racing track, near the existing Le Colisee Pepsi, and should be ready in time for the 2015-16 season.
The new arena will be a public and private-funded venture shared by municipal and provincial governments as well as Quebecor Media Inc. Quebecor Media Inc. reportedly will pay $33-million for the new arena's naming rights and that agreement would increase to $63.5-million if Quebec City lures an NHL franchise to the province's capital city.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was asked on Sunday whether the possibility of the struggling Phoenix Coyotes being relocated to Quebec City was strengthened by the announcement on Sunday.
"No, there's nothing new here," Daly wrote in an e-mail.
But what do you expect the NHL to say on the record? The Coyotes situation has been an embarrassment for quite some time, and the timing would be foolish for the league to even give a hint about the latest developments or non developments in the franchise's ownership situation.
Plus, the Coyotes are fighting for their playoff lives. We saw what happened last spring in the first round of the playoffs when speculation surfaced about a possible move. They were swept by the Detroit Red Wings.
Twelve days ago at the conclusion of the NHL general managers' meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., NHL commissioner Gary Bettman refused to set a deadline for a new ownership group to step forward in Phoenix.
"At some point we have to and I hope we don't get to that point," Bettman said on Mar 14.
Behind the scenes, it has been made clear that the NHL views Quebec City on equal footing with Seattle and Kansas City as possible destinations if the Coyotes are relocated, even with the wild success with the return of the Winnipeg Jets this season.
If you glance at the timeline last spring, when the Atlanta Thrashers were awarded to Winnipeg, it went like this:
May 16 - reports surfaced that Truth North Sports and Entertainment were negotiating a sale with Thrashers owners.
May 31 - NHL and True North hold a press conference in Winnipeg to announce that a deal to purchase the Thrashers had been reached.
June 21 - NHL board of governors formally approved the sale and move of the team to Winnipeg.
The next two months will be interesting. In the meantime, Le Colisee, the former home of the Nordiques, could provide a temporary setting if the NHL green lights a move to Quebec City for next season. It is expected the rink will be fitted for NHL-specified glass and boards this summer and other refurbishments would be made if the Coyotes move there.
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?