Quebec City in NHL's future?

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:33 PM ET

NEW YORK —  - Until there is a suitable arena to play in, the NHL won’t be returning to Quebec City.

But that doesn’t mean commissioner Gary Bettman and his deputy, Bill Daly, don’t consider the provincial capital a viable potential home for a team down the road.

“I’m not in a position to promise a new franchise, but nothing starts without a new building,” Bettman said. “Have I heard from the mayor? Yes. Have I heard from the premier? Yes. But it’s really up to the various constituencies who have a stake in the possibility of a new building in Quebec City.

“We really have to resolve that issue before we can give this any serious consideration. We can’t being talking about the possibility until there’s some certainty they will be getting a new arena.”

That said, Bettman and Daly have met with Quebecor president and CEO, Pierre Karl Peladeau and recognize his commitment to acquiring a team.

“We have had a relationship since (Peladeau tried to purchase the Montreal Canadiens),” Daly said. “He’s done a significant amount of work in terms of exploring and understanding the opportunity.”

Added Bettman: “I think they are people who are capable of being suitable owners of a franchise.”

The NHL brass continues to keep the door open to Winnipeg as a potential franchise home, even as the prospect of the Phoenix Coyotes moving there seems to have diminished.

“We know in Winnipeg there is an ownership group and a building that is interested in having a team as soon as they can get it,” said Bettman, who added that the league has no concerns about the NHL readiness of the Winnipeg arena.

Bettman and Daly met informally with members of the visiting Toronto media Friday afternoon at the NHL’s Manhattan head offices. Among other topics:

On the Devils starting just 15 players in a game earlier this season.

“It’s not unprecedented for a team to skate with three forward lines and they were in the process of making cap adjustments. They were doing the things they needed to do to adjust to the cap realities.”

On big salaries being buried in the minors as has been the case with Wade Redden, Jeff Finger and others:

“It’s now turned out to be a place where you can get a player off your cap and off your roster. This may be something that both we and (the players association) may want to look at over time because maybe the money has to count and it is a way to keep players in the league longer.”

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca


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