(Raleigh) Gary Bettman does not like my question, interrupting me before I could even finish it. The subject, obviously, is sensitive. The eventual return of the Nordiques in Quebec City a lot of interest in the scenes of the NHL and Bettman was forced into a balancing.
On the one hand, the Commissioner reiterated in recent months that the candidacy of Quebec could be considered if the opportunity presented itself, provided a new arena is built and a wealthy investor interested in the project. With good reason, these words have excited the people of Quebec.
Secondly, and this was the case again Saturday, Bettman urges more enthusiastic to moderate their expectations, recalling the NHL draft n'entretient neither move nor a team to conduct an expansion.
So Bettman, is it a double message, one way to foster confusion with a mix of hot and cold? "This is not correct to say that," he replied. I am trying to be as clear as crystal. I'm just saying not to build a new arena for us because I do not promise you a team now. "
In English Canada, Bettman was severely reprimanded when the project to relocate the Phoenix Coyotes in Hamilton failed in 2009. It's in the wake of this affair he spoke in terms of encouraging potential returns of Quebec and Winnipeg in the NHL. As if to break the perception that it sticks to the skin: to be viscerally opposed to the addition of Canadian cities in the NHL. That Bettman is trying to cool expectations of fans in Quebec is not surprising. His first responsibility remains to the existing teams. It is inconceivable to discuss publicly the removal of a concession before the case is tied up.
The fact remains that Bettman met with Premier Charest, Mayor Labeaume and President of Quebecor in recent months. Pierre Karl Peladeau, he said: "I like it personally."
But business is business. And on this ground, Bettman and Peladeau will find themselves in opposing camps this week before the CRTC, which regulates telecommunications in Canada.
In the hearings surrounding the sale of stations to CTVglobemedia Bell (BCE), Quebecor Asks CRTC to terminate the exclusivity of RDS, to which the transaction chain, in the dissemination of Canadiens games. Quebecor alleges that this contract will provide competitive advantages to BCE, already a minority owner of the Canadiens.
This application obviously does not suit the Canadian, who believes it can use its discretion charge on team matches. But it also faces the NHL, which is part of the record. Gary Bettman following the case closely and does not rule out intervention as required.
Indeed, the Canadian has not only granted this exclusivity agreement with RDS, but rather in collaboration with the National League. To quote the saying goes, it is a joint venture, a formula that has existed since the days of Ronald Corey.
Why? Simply because in the NHL, the local television rights belong to the teams and the national rights to the NHL. In order to facilitate negotiations with broadcasters, the Canadian and the NHL paid within a common housing rights in meetings of their own. (Only the English national games are not affected by this agreement.)
"We are partners with the Canadian in this agreement," said Bettman. I think content owners have the right to enter into exclusive agreements if they feel it makes more sense for them. Any company that holds rights to determine how its product can be exploited. "
When Quebecor Bettman wants to win, that it questions the nature of an agreement that the NHL is a party before a regulatory body in Canada.
Strategically, this is a risky bet. It will be interesting to monitor the extent to which representatives of Quebecor will press the accelerator when they testify before the CRTC. Sure thing, Gary Bettman will be on the lookout. "It's not just the Canadian is a joint venture with the Canadian and us," he repeated.
The Board of Governors of the NHL as an exclusive club where admission is not automatic. The main criterion remains the weight of the portfolio. NHL Owners looking for strong enough to adequately fund and long-term team.
The opinion of Gary Bettman and other Owners of potential candidates nevertheless plays a role. This weekend, Terry Pegula, oil tycoon and natural gas wants to buy the Buffalo Sabres, was paraded before the conclave to explain his motives.
Pegula company sold its 4.7 billion to Royal Dutch Shell last year. He gave 88 million to Penn State so it should develop a hockey program worthy of the name. One might think that the NHL would jump in with both feet at the chance to make partner. Mr. Pegula will obviously be admitted into the club. But the NHL will take the time needed before endorsing the transaction.
The owners of a new team in Quebec, where the Nordiques back to life, will be subject to the same scrutiny. In the NHL, future Owners must accept the policies of the office chief. And win over Gary Bettman.