Poor Quebec City.
No NHL team for you, despite your three-year-old, $400-million arena, hockey-crazed fans and old connections with pro leagues. Gary Bettman and his cronies wanted another U.S. franchise, especially in the western states, in a booming city with a big TV market and rich, high-profile owners.
Seattle checks all those boxes. It also has a hockey history — the Seattle Metropolitans won the 1917 Stanley Cup against the Montreal Canadiens, one year before the NHL was formed. That’s not nearly as important as Seattle’s owners’ willingness to pay a $650 million expansion fee. The team won’t appear for three more seasons when it might have a humourous or historical nickname — Totems, Mets, Fish Markets, Space Needles, Grunge or Nirvana.
Bettman said the NHL is content now with 32 teams. Without expansion on the horizon, Quebec City will have to wait for a cheaper, relocating franchise from Carolina, Florida or Ottawa.