(7:50pm): Hurricanes team president Don Waddell called an in-game press conference tonight to deny the rumors of relocation, tweets Luke DeCock of The Raleigh News & Observer. In a second tweet, DeCock reports that Waddell also indicated that there had been nothing on the sales front in “four to five months.”
(6:45pm): Rumors of a potential sale of the Carolina Hurricanes franchise have been percolating for a while now. Attendance is one problem as the team has finished 30th and 29th respectively over each of the last two full campaigns and currently reside in last place again averaging just 11,189 fans per home game.
A second issue complicating the situation is a lawsuit filed against team owner Peter Karmanos by his three sons. Details of the suit can be found here. The suit has evidently been settled though it’s unknown whether that might mean a sale of the club is more or less likely.
Now, according to 98.5 Sports in Montreal (link in French), Karmanos is still actively pursuing a sale of the team and is willing to sell to a buyer looking to move the ’Canes out of North Carolina. Naturally, with an NHL-caliber arena and no tenant, Quebec City immediately comes to mind as a potential landing spot should relocation become an option.
Earlier this year when talking about a sale and potential relocation, Karmanos flat out said the team would not be moving from North Carolina.
“I promise, this team isn’t going to Quebec. I’m not saying that cause I have something against Quebec, but because we have ties to this market. We have an excellent lease, I love this arena and I’m really attached to this market.”
Perhaps Carolina’s current ownership has softened on its stance but even so the league would need to approve such a move and in the past they’ve been resistant to relocating franchises.
Of course relocating the Hurricanes to Quebec would not solve the league’s geographical imbalance but it also doesn’t hurt the situation either. However, a possible future expansion to Seattle, as has often been rumored as well, would bring that desired balance. That would allow the league to use Quebec as a fall back in the event relocation of an Eastern Conference franchise, like Carolina, becomes necessary.