Maybe Georges Laraque is onto something.
The former NHL player and current radio host made waves on Monday when he announced that Quebec City was out of the running for an NHL expansion team.
A provocative bit of insight? Maybe, but not the sort that you'd expect to generate an official response from the league.
Except, it did.
“We will not comment on the substance of our process, which remains ongoing," Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. No final decisions have been reached and no recommendation of any kind has been made or communicated by the League Office or the Executive Committee either to the NHL Players’ Association or to the NHL Board of Governors.”
The NHLPA has backed up Daly's statement.
"The report isn’t accurate," a spokesman said. "The league has not communicated to the NHLPA regarding whether or not they plan to expand to Quebec City."
Seems odd that the league, which has kept the entire process under wraps, felt the need to shut down this particular rumor when others, particularly about Las Vegas being granted a franchise, have been left hanging in the breeze. But founded or not, Laraque's claim wouldn't catch anyone by surprise. Quebec City has always been viewed as a less-than-ideal expansion option simply based on its geography—it's believed that the league would like to add two western-based teams in order to address the unbalanced 16-14 conference alignment. And the battered Canadian dollar doesn't help the city's chances, either. With the loonie currently at 75 cents to the American greenback, a $500 million franchise fee would run up to $666 million Canadian. There also are concerns regarding a team's ability to pay salaries in American currency without becoming a drain on the league's revenue sharing pool.
Then again, with revenues taking a hit as a result of the currency's devaluation, the thought of pocketing a lump-sum expansion share might have more appeal now to the league's Board of Governors than ever.