The news was signed by Denis Lessard. Perhaps the best political columnist of the last 30 years. A text signed by Lessard (or Antoine Robitaille) is cast in concrete.
My colleague Stéphane Cadorette reports everything that happened yesterday. Of course everyone pushes each other. It was the worst day for this kind of story to go public. Eugene Melnyk died two days ago, and already the remains of his empire seem to be snatched away in Ottawa.
But we now know that Gary Bettman and the National League are studying with the leaders of the Senators and Quebecor the possibility of presenting five games at the Videotron Center.
A VERY COMPLEX OPERATION
It is not concluded. We are still working on the project. Foreplay, say some speakers. The worst part is that the fact that the news is out risks derailing the project. That’s life.
But it’s a first step. And without preliminaries, we cannot reach an agreement. Have to start somewhere.
Why ? The first element of the answer is in the Senators’ financial statements. The organization is not rich. In fact, the situation is not very good.
People from Quebecor have maintained a certain relationship with the Senators for several years. All in absolute discretion. It even happened that senior officers at Quebecor made the trip to Ottawa. It wasn’t for skating on the Rideau Canal.
Presenting five games at the Videotron Center is a very complex operation. The company that pays $250,000 a year to appear on tape for 45 games in Ottawa will want to be compensated for all five games. You will have to sell the equivalent in Quebec or rely on the fact that the television will send the signal back to the federal capital.
Same thing. It will be necessary to sell in Quebec the lodges which would be occupied in Ottawa.
In other words, the challenge is greater than the presentation of a simple exhibition game. And Quebecor will have to put all the power of its newspapers and television networks at the service of the project. Not to mention the magazines and his radio.
Filling the Videotron Center five times will not happen automatically. But with adequate promotion and above all good matches, with one month for the sale of a match, it is doable. ample.
But why would Bettman now endorse this project?
Because the commissioner of the National League is brilliant. He has everything to gain.
First, it takes pressure off the Senators’ finances. It’s Quebec, Quebecor and perhaps the government who take on the burden of selling these five games and making them a success. It goes without saying that the Senators will get the lion’s share of the deal. And knowing Bettman, we already know that fans in the Ottawa area will be protected one way or another. It will happen with respect or it will not happen.
It also means that the other NHL teams will have to pay a few hundred thousand dollars less in the league’s mutual aid fund.
KEEP QUEBEC ALIVE
But above all, Bettman would thus keep in his small back pocket the possibility of sending a team to Quebec if there was an extreme need. He happens to rekindle hope among hockey fans in Eastern Quebec. That hope had been nearly extinguished with the entry of the Vegas Golden Knights into the league.
In addition, Bettman would allow Quebecor and the government to truly verify the depth and richness of the market in greater metropolitan Quebec… and regionally.
We will know in concrete terms if there are the fans and the cash to feed hope.
Moreover, Eric Girard, the Minister of Finance, deserves to be better known. This adventure will serve him well. As it will serve the CAQ, which is struggling against the Conservative Party of Éric Duhaime in the region of the national capital.
It is therefore possible that the news on the negotiations between the government, Quebecor and the National League come out mainly in the political pages.
Because hockey pays off, even for politicians.
Lafleur honored in Quebec
François Paradis, President of the National Assembly of Quebec, wrote yesterday to Guy Lafleur. The letter was to inform Lafleur that he will receive the Medal of Honor from the National Assembly of Quebec on May 24.
Mr. Paradis specifies in the missive that the decision to honor the legendary player of the Canadian, the Rangers and the Nordiques had been taken unanimously by the members of the committee.
All Quebec political parties, except for the party that acts as the unofficial opposition according to the polls, are represented on the committee.
“But for me, Guy Lafleur is a national hero. Do not forget that I am a ti-cul from Montreal. My idol was Guy Lafleur,” however, pointed out Conservative leader Éric Duhaime.
So we are really talking about unanimity.
The presentation of the Medal of Honor will take place the day after National Patriots’ Day. Mr. Paradis, in a very delicate way, indicated to Lafleur that if the legend could not move to the National Assembly for the ceremony, the president would then move to a place suitable for the state of health of the “blond Demon”. for a private discount.
When we talk about outreach for Quebec, it is difficult to find a greater ambassador than Lafleur. Céline Dion, Georges St-Pierre, Jacques Villeneuve, Yannick Nezet-Séguin, Robert Lepage, Guy Laliberté and a few others have played or play this role.
But Guy Lafleur is like Maurice Richard. It is incomparable. A class apart.