LAS VEGAS -- Representatives from the group hoping to bring the Nordiques back to Quebec City remain optimistic they will be able to reach their goal despite being disappointed that their application for an expansion team was deferred by the NHL Board of Governors.
The Board of Governors granted an expansion team to Las Vegas and put the Quebec City application from Quebecor Inc. on hold during a meeting here Wednesday.
"We know there are a lot of passionate hockey fans in Quebec City," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "There were a whole host of issues that went into the determination that there should be one team now and it needed to be a team in the west. Las Vegas fit the bill, but we are impressed by the application that was put forward by Quebecor on behalf of Quebec City and that's why the application wasn't rejected, it was deferred at least for the time being."
Commissioner Bettman outlined three chief reasons for why the Quebec City application was deferred:
a) The current geographic imbalance that exists in the NHL with 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and 14 in the Western Conference. Las Vegas will become the 15th team in the Western Conference and eighth in the Pacific Division, but if Quebec City had been granted a team it would have been an Eastern Conference team, leaving the NHL with an imbalance among 32 teams.
b) The volatility of the Canadian dollar, which dipped to 68 cents during the year-long formal expansion process that came to an end Wednesday.
c) The difficulty on the existing 30 teams of adjusting to the addition of two expansion teams coming into the League at the same time. The existing teams will each lose one player in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft.
"We understand the process, we're part of that process," Quebecor president and chief executive officer Pierre Dion said. "We want it to be a win-win as well. We're hockey fans but we're a business company as well, a business corporation that wants to make it a success. All the conditions have to be there if we want it to be a success. That's why we think we need to be patient. Timing has to be right. We lost the Nordiques once, we don't want to lose them twice. That's how we see it."
Video: Commissioner Bettman discusses Quebec City's bid
Commissioner Bettman said the League is not considering relocating a franchise to Quebec City and there is no formal process underway or timetable for when it will re-evaluate Quebec City's application for an expansion team.
He also said the League has not started the process to look for a 16th team in the Western Conference.
"This was the appropriate response now," Commissioner Bettman said. "Were we obviously aware of the interest and capabilities both of Quebec City and Quebecor? The answer is absolutely yes. They're on our radar screen for another time perhaps, another day perhaps when circumstances may allow."
Dion said he believes Quebecor has built a strong relationship with representatives from the NHL that will benefit it in hopefully getting a team to Quebec City soon enough.
"The NHL, I think they like the Quebecor application, I think they like the relationship they have with Quebecor, they like the market, they like the arena," Dion said. "A lot of things can happen in the coming months, so we'll follow that very closely and we'll keep talking with the NHL."
Dion stressed that people in Quebec City still talk about the Nordiques in their daily discussions even though they left 20 years ago, when they were relocated to Denver and became the Colorado Avalanche.
He said he will go to Quebec City on Thursday to explain to the fans through the media why the application was deferred and how serious Quebecor is about bringing the Nordiques back.
"The fans deserve this and I ask them to continue to support us and continue to be patient," Dion said. "We haven't had the Nordiques for 20 years, so we know what patience is."