Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Winnipeg way ahead in NHL courtship

Quebec City missing the owner, the arena

  • Print

To suggest Winnipeg and Quebec City are competing for an NHL franchise is both presumptuous and ridiculous.

First of all, in the words of commissioner Gary Bettman, the NHL views relocation as undesirable.

Secondly, should the league be forced to make such a move, Winnipeg is years ahead of Quebec City in the relocation queue.

Setting aside the fact Winnipeg has an NHL-ready building and Quebec City does not, the relationship between True North Sports and Entertainment and the NHL has been carefully cultivated and slowly matured. It's ready to bear fruit.

In dating terms, Winnipeg has asked for the league's hand in marriage and nicely been told to wait on the porch while dad mulls it over.

Quebec? They haven't even been on a date, let alone done some of the back-seat wrestling True North and the NHL have engaged in over the last couple of years.

No disrespect to Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume, who we are sure is a fine gentleman, but to suggest his relationship is anywhere close to the one developed between the NHL and True North Partners Mark Chipman and David Thomson is, as we've already said, ridiculous.

Chipman and Thomson own an AHL franchise and are established as legitimate operators in the hockey world.

They've been on the block for a while and will remain for some time to come. Money is not an object where they are concerned and the NHL has shown they'd be happy to welcome them to the club.

A local politician? Any politician? Give me a break. Gary Bettman can't afford to tie his fortunes to someone who may or may not be around the next time a civic election is held.

But don't take our word for any of this. Mr. Bettman has already said as much.

This past spring he addressed the subject of relocation prior to the Stanley Cup final.

"You know our view on franchise relocation: We try to avoid it," Bettman said in Chicago. "And frankly, if we're going to move a franchise, there are a couple of places in Canada that I'd like to give my attention first, because when Winnipeg and Quebec lost their franchises -- remember, I always talk about three things for franchises: market, owner and building -- both of those teams were moved because two of the criteria went away. There was no building and there was no owner. Nobody wanted to own a team there anymore.

"To the extent that those markets are in a position to deal with those issues, I'd like to try and fix something that I wish might not have happened in the first place, not unlike what we did in Minnesota (the league replaced the departed North Stars with the Wild)."

Building and owner. Winnipeg has both. Quebec City? Nope on both accounts.

"Winnipeg, I believe, has an NHL building, and in Quebec they're talking about building one," said Bettman.

Where has the talk of an arena in Quebec City gone to this point? Nowhere.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper floated a trial balloon a week ago about helping to fund a new arena in Quebec and has been backpedalling like a defensive back ever since.

Bettman also went so far as to place his personal blessing on True North by telling the hockey world he'd been dancing in the dark with them for some time.

"There has been a lot of speculation about Winnipeg," Bettman said. "Winnipeg did make a bona fide offer (on the Phoenix Coyotes). We never concluded a deal. That offer was made by Mark Chipman and David Thomson as partners in True North and they're very comfortable with the process. They understood that the likelihood was that the team was going to be remaining in Phoenix. They wanted us to know of their interest and they have told us that they are prepared to be patient."

So there you have it. Sure, the NHL is happy to talk to the folks in Quebec City. But don't mistake polite hellos with the kind of heavy breathing that's gone on between Bettman's office and True North.

Winnipeg may never get another NHL franchise, but as of today and the foreseeable future, this city is first in any lineups for such movement.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 17, 2010 C1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Key of Bart - Four Little Games

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • An American White Pelican takes flight from the banks of the Red River in Lockport, MB. A group of pelicans is referred to as a ‘pod’ and the American White Pelican is the only pelican species to have a horn on its bill. May 16, 2012. SARAH O. SWENSON / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.

View More Gallery Photos

About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.


Will Connor McDavid make the Edmonton Oilers a playoff team?

View Results

Ads by Google