Quebecor will submit application for expansion team

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From a press release following yesterday’s confirmation by Gary Bettamn that the NHL would begin a “formal expansion review process” in July:

Quebecor has consistently stated that its objective is to establish an NHL franchise in Québec City and it intends to make every effort to achieve that goal. Out of respect for NHL authorities and the process that has been established, Quebecor will maintain its policy of discretion as it proceeds.

Quebecor will be the manager of the Videotron Centre for the next 25 years. The state-of-the-art facility in Québec City, which seats 18,259 for hockey, is set to officially open in September 2015. It was designed to meet NHL standards.

TVA Sports, owned by Quebecor, has been the NHL’s official French-language broadcaster since the beginning of the 2014-15 season under a 12-year agreement.

Unlike Las Vegas or Seattle, nobody doubts Quebec City’s interest in hockey. But while Quebecor CEO Pierre Dion says the company has “all the ingredients” for expansion, what may keep the Nordiques from returning is:

— Geography. The NHL already has an imbalance with 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and only 14 in the West. That’s why Las Vegas and Seattle are considered the favorites to get expansion teams.
— Ownership. From the Canadian Press: “On the issue of Pierre-Karl Peladeau, Quebecor’s former president and CEO and leader of the separatist Parti Quebecois, [NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly] said the political affiliation of a potential owner would not dissuade the league for exploring an expansion agreement.” But that’s not what others have said. At the very least, there’s some uncertainty here.
— The Canadian dollar. Currently worth around $0.81 USD, thanks to the oil crash. A couple of years ago (when we wrote this), it was around par. Remember that currency disparity was a big reason the Nordiques left for Colorado in 1995. And there are people who believe the loonie will fall even lower in the future.

Related: That didn’t take long: Roustan will ‘definitely’ apply for second NHL team in Toronto