On this week’s edition of Sportsnet’s 32 Thoughts intermission segment, Jeff Marek reported “public musings” from Quebec premier Francois Legault about the revival of the Quebec Nordiques, who played their last NHL season in 1994-95 before relocating to Denver as the Colorado Avalanche.
It continues what’s been a long-running push to bring NHL hockey back to Quebec City, but at virtually every point, the NHL has remained uninterested. While it’s unknown if their stance as changed, Legault has said publicly this week that the Quebec government plans to meet with commissioner Gary Bettman.
It’s strong messaging from Legault, who Marek reports went on to say that the government of Quebec would be willing to invest their capital in a project that would see the Nordiques return to Quebec. Marek notes that this project would be a consortium — rather, not a single investor or group that would be financially responsible for funding the team.
In terms of recent history, it seems unprecedented that a provincial government would provide significant financial backing for a professional sports team.
Marek reports that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirms that he’s spoken over the phone with Legault, and while Daly admits dialogue may continue, he says “[the league] is obviously pleased with what we have right now.”
It’s worth noting that Quebec City does have a suitable venue in place. The Videotron Centre, which opened in September 2015, has a capacity of 18,259 for ice hockey. That’s greater capacity than highly regarded NHL arenas such as Madison Square Garden, the fresh-off-the-press UBS Arena, T-Mobile Arena, and TD Garden.