It may have been one of the most visceral sports experiences that I have seen since the Golden Goal in 2010. It was the White Out in Winnipeg before last night’s Jets-Ducks game and was 19 years in the making.
What took the NHL so long?
The mitigating circumstances around the departure of the original Jets are lengthy and would likely put most of you back to sleep, so I am going to spare you the details. But in this day and age, with the economics of the NHL being stable and locales such as Winnipeg showing us all that they can be sustainable, why can’t the NHL do what is right and get hockey back to Quebec City?
This is all about economics…we have known that with the NHL and Commissioner Gary Bettman for decades now, so let’s appeal to that. The Nordiques franchise returning to the NHL would be an initial windfall to the league of roughly 500 million dollars. The Player’s Association would sign off on this in an instant. 25 more jobs plus the added economic benefit of another successful Canadian franchise equals more money in their pockets too.
For Bettman, it is about two things; optics and leverage. From an optics standpoint, he needs to try and sell the Nordiques and Quebec to NBC…not an easy task. But if he needs any props, just pull out any game featuring the Nords and the Habs.
Then there is leverage. Bettman knows that appetite for Quebec is there so he is now going to squeeze every last dollar out of Quebecor and their group that would be interested in bringing the NHL back to Quebec City. The longer the wait, the higher the price will be.
The NHL will eventually return, and with it the traditions that we lost when the team moved to Colorado two decades ago. But if you need any proof as to how the city would react if they ever get their team back, look at last night. It will give you goosebumps…