Every season or every few seasons it seems like the rumors of the NHL heading back to Quebec City pop up.
After all, when you have teams like the Arizona Coyotes playing in a literal college facility it doesn't take much to cause speculation about an NHL relocation. Quebec City, Kansas City and Houston have all been proposed as potential relocation markets, but one knock against all of these locations has been the competition it would create within the market.
Hockey fans in Quebec City are mostly Montreal Canadiens fans, with some old school Nords fans following the Colorado Avalanche, of course. Kansas City is St. Louis Blues country and Houston is a Dallas Stars stronghold. There has been talk about a second team in Southern Ontario as well, but that's obviously a pretty strong market for the Toronto Maple Leafs. In the past these teams have actively campaigned against the NHL to keep teams away so that they can keep the geographical market for themselves, but today Canadiens owner Geoff Molson told Gary Bettman that he'd be in support of an NHL team in Quebec City.
From Habs insider Renaud Lavoie:
It seems like not a big deal but... this IS a big deal.
Like it or not, Molson and the Habs have a lot of sway in the NHL's front office. It's no different than the Boston Bruins under Jeremy Jacobs or the Chicago Blackhawks under the Wirtz family. These long-standing franchises have incredible sway with Gary Bettman and the NHL and if they don't like something, it probably won't come to fruition. Here's hoping that by removing this obstacle, we start to see more talk of the NHL returning to QC.
Bettman's comments were made this evening in Montreal where he's taking in the Canadiens vs Bruins game and, as you might expect, the Montreal media didn't let him get away without grilling him a bit. With the Habs near the bottom of the NHL's standings and with teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes CLEARLY tanking for a shot at generational player Connor Bedard this summer, Bettman still maintains that tanking isn't an issue in the NHL.
Nobody tanks because we have a weighted lottery. You're not going to lose games to increase your odds by a couple of percentage points. That's silly. And frankly, suggesting tanking, I believe, is inconsistent with the professsionalism that our players and our coaches have. Nobody tanks. Our players and our coaches do their best to win. And again just because you may finish with the worst record in the league you've got something like a 75 percent change that you're not going to get the first pick.
- Gary Bettman
Riiiiiiight, Gary... whatever you say, bud.
The thing is though that, sure you can't guarantee yourself 1st overall by finishing 32nd overall... but you know what you can do? You can guarantee yourself 1st OR 2nd overall. Mr. Bettman neglects to mention that...