QUEBEC CITY -- Saying he was “disappointed” with how things worked out regarding the sale of the Montreal Canadiens, the head of Quebecor, Pierre Karl Peladeau, is turning his attention to Quebec City.
The media group’s CEO says he will be “seriously” involved in the current efforts to see another NHL team brought to the Quebec capital, a place Peladeau called “such a magnificent city”.
“Quebec City is a hockey city ... much more than certain American cities with NHL teams,” he said over the weekend. “Quebec City has the potential to build a new arena and accommodate a hockey team, but it won’t be tomorrow. (We’ll) have to be patient.” Peladeau was in the city with his wife, Julie Snyder, at a benefit evening for the Fondation Felix-Leclerc.
The Quebecor chief said it was obviously a disappointment to see his group of financial backers unsuccessful in its bid to acquire the legendary team. After offers from a host of high-profile potential buyers earlier this year, the Canadiens and the Bell Centre were finally sold to the Molson brothers in a deal worth some $630 million.
“For sure we’re disappointed,” Peladeau said. “We believed strongly and were confident we would get it. I involved myself enormously in this matter. We were a solid group. I don’t understand why we didn’t get it.”
Peladeau’s interest in the matter is good news for those who experienced the intense rivalry between the Habs and the Nordiques, including Michel Bergeron, the former Nordiques coach.
Bergeron said he’s confident Peladeau’s interest will yield concrete results, even after other groups failed in recent years to bring pro hockey back to the area.
“There are so many franchises in trouble right now, it could only be a good thing for the NHL,” he said.
Former Canadiens coach Jean Perron couldn’t agree more with his former rival.
“Quebec City has proven itself, and it’s clear there’s a market,” he said. “All the NHL owners who saw the Nordiques saw that it’s a great hockey town.”
Perron also remembered the particular passion shown by fans of the team. “Even during the hardest years, the Quebec City Coliseum was almost always full.”
The main difficulty in bringing a new NHL franchise to the city would be finding a place for it to play, as the Coliseum is no longer seen as fit for a professional team.
“It’s definitely a main question,” said Perron, who noted that Peladeau will have to partner with the local business community to build a new arena, “which could cost $300 million at the very least.”
(Quebecor Inc. is the parent company of Canoe.ca.)