Call it a slow news week, Pens fans. I’ve done articles on goaltending, the great and still unresolved center debate, the salary arbitration process and possible long-term effects on our team. I’ve also blogged about the farm system in comparison to the rest of the NHL, and the possibility of a three-peat.
With the exception of the coaching staff and the new management changes, which I briefly outlined in my “Life on the Farm” post, there aren’t a lot of new subjects to write about at this time of year.
With that in mind, I want to do a little hypothetical article that may someday have relevance to our team.
What if Quebec City had joined the NHL this year?
It almost happened. That was the NHL’s master plan in 2015. There were two teams expected to join the league for 2017, Las Vegas and Quebec City!
One billion dollars in NHL application fees. League Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL owners could not contain themselves. The NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) thought Santa Claus had come early that year.
The plan was that every NHL team would have to give up two players off their everyday roster in exchange for a lot of cash. Some say each team would receive $25 million. The balance would go to the NHL and a bit for the NHLPA.
When half the NHL teams do not make much money in relation to the significant size of their financial investment, getting a quick $25 mil payday for two players off the bottom half of your roster seems like a great idea. Like winning the lottery!
Quebec City even built a brand new, state of the art, hockey arena (it’s bigger than PPG Paints Arena). They were even able to access some Federal and Provincial grant money to help build it. Only in Quebec.
Quebec City is a great hockey city. They had a new top-notch facility. Over a million-plus crazy hockey fans with disposable income. Next to Toronto and the Hamilton area, the best market in Canada.
What went wrong? The official story: the falling Canadian dollar was being devalued against the US dollar, making the situation in Quebec City too risky. So the applicant withdrew their application. Now there was only one new team to join the NHL in 2017, the Vegas Golden Knights.
We’re all living with the aftermath of the recent entry of Vegas into the NHL and trying to adjust our rosters accordingly. It has caused some real issues for a lot of the top NHL teams.
What if Quebec City had remained and we had to give up two good roster players?
We were lucky that we only lost Marc-Andre Fleury. If Quebec had remained we could have lost one of our key defensemen…Justin Schultz, Olli Maatta, Ian Cole or Brian Dumoulin.
Same thing at forward. Some real good players would’ve been exposed…and possibly picked.
So maybe, just maybe, Pens fans, we got off lucky this year. The fact that we only lost MAF is a real blessing. We could have lost much more. When you’re trying to make history and three-peat, every player counts!
A Final Point
According to the Quebec City media, the ownership group remains hopeful they’ll have an NHL franchise someday soon. Media reports say at least two (maybe more) NHL owners approached the Quebec City group and said, “why pay 500 million for a new NHL team, take all that time to build a contender, when I’ll sell you ours for 400 million or less.”
Apparently there is a moratorium, imposed by Bettman, on adding new teams until Vegas gets operational. But within 2-3 years you will see a team move from the southern United States to Quebec City. To save 100-plus-million dollars and get a better team to begin with, I think I would wait a year or two as well. How about you?
Thanks for reading. Hope you’re all enjoying your summer.
Hockey starts in a month…. let’s three-peat!