By JD Lagrange – Oh that topic again. There are a bunch of former NHL employees who are trying to remain relevant by stirring things up through the media… and it works as people talk about them. How many times have we heard Michel Bergeron saying things that make no sense? Or Stephane Waite pretending to be an expert at something? Or Serge Savard strumming the language drum to put down Marc Bergevin? And the list goes on. While most hockey fans can read right through the self-serving and attention-seeking comments, some people are unfortunately gullible enough to take them for granted.
Recently, it’s been Michel Therrien. In his most recent interview, he seemed to think that he was making an earth-shattering announcement when he claimed that Montreal Canadiens’ President Geoff Molson doesn’t want the return of the Quebec Nordiques. Worse, some media outlets made it “news”. Even worse, some fans took that to the bank as the reason why the NHL is seemingly refusing to return the Nordiques to where they feel it belongs.
Does Molson want the return of the Nordiques in what is currently “his market” and lose out on some revenue? Of course not. Be honest here: would you if you were in his place? But those who think that the Montreal Canadiens’ President is one of the main obstacles to the return of the NHL in Quebec City are looking the wrong way. While he does sit on several boards, including the NHL Board of Governors and the Hockey Hall of Fame, he only has one vote (if it ever came to that, which it hasn’t). If he had that much pull, Molson would have resolved the unfair refereeing against his team, right? *wink*
The real reason why Quebec doesn’t have a team is Gary Bettman. You want someone to blame? Look towards him. But for one of the rare times, I understand why Bettman and the NHL think that way… and so should everyone, even if they disagree. As you know, understanding does not mean supporting or agreeing.
Remember that under Bettman, everything is about money and greed, not necessarily what’s for the good of the game. There have been numerous examples of that since 1993, when he was hired as the NHL Commissioner. So if you take that approach, you should understand what I’m saying here.
If the NHL grants a franchise to Quebec City, what does the league gain? A rivalry? They don’t care about that. Remember… think money. By doing so, they take money out of one pocket (Molson’s) and give it to someone else. They don’t gain fans (or very few) or revenues as even TV rights will be divided, losing some for Montreal and gaining it back to Quebec.
Now if they put a team in a US market where there are few hockey fans, just about 100% of the money coming in is “new revenue” for the NHL and its owners. New fans equals new TV rights, higher viewership to sell those rights. Cha-ching! They’ve gained a great hockey market in Nashville, in Las Vegas, in Seattle even. Money that they would have only split had they put a team in Quebec City.
So for the owners, the return of the Nordiques is a lateral move at best. Particularly if you think of generating revenue. It fails drastically when compared to the potential of introducing hockey in a market where it’s not already strong.
Glimmer of hope
Admittedly, I am not “in the know” of the details and discussions behind the NHL’s closed door meetings. But if I look at it from a fiscal point of view, the way Bettman and his greedy acolytes look at things, the hope of seeing the return of the Nordiques is slim to none. But it might be there ever so slightly…
The only way I could see the Nordiques returning would be through relocation under the following conditions:
- The NHL’s Board of Governors gets tired of having teams on life support (see Arizona);
- The NHL has exhausted the options of several US Cities like Houston (TX), San Antonio (TX), Charlotte (NC), Indianapolis (IN), Baltimore (MD) and even Atlanta (GA), yes again; and,
- Gary Bettman quits or gets fired, and the NHL hires someone who makes decisions for the good of the game itself.
So instead of listening to the Therrien’s of this world, you would be better off relying on your own common sense than believing the words of someone trying desperately to remain relevant and wanting to be heard at all costs. It’s okay to be frustrated with the situation. But at least, go bark up the right tree and direct your anger towards the real culprit…
You want to hold your breath for Quebec to get another NHL franchise? Do it, but it will be without me as I’ll be dead before that happens… at least based on the way the NHL under Bettman has been going.