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Quebec government mulls financial involvement in NHL return


UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 11: Members of ‘Nordiques Nation’ get fired up prior to the NHL game between the New York Islanders and the Atlanta Thrashers on December 11, 2010 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. 1,100 fans from Quebec attended the game to show their support for an NHL team. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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From the Canadian Press:

Quebec’s premier is downplaying a suggestion from one of his cabinet ministers that the government could get involved financially in the project to get the NHL back in Quebec City.

Sam Hamad, who is minister responsible for the Quebec City area, raised the possibility of the Liberal government becoming a financial partner of Quebecor Inc., which has bought naming rights on a $400-million arena due to be completed by fall 2015.

Hamad said Wednesday the assistance could be in the form of a guaranteed loan.

But the premier, Philippe Couillard, suggested later that, “with public finances as they are,” taxpayers would have issues with any government involvement.

Why Hamad felt Quebecor, a media company that books billions of dollars in annual revenue, would even need any government assistance is a question worth asking. Sure, Quebecor might take a guaranteed loan if it was offered, but it’s not like they couldn’t finance it themselves or through the financial markets. And if they couldn’t -- as in, no private concern was willing to put its money on the line -- why would it be a good deal for the government to risk its money?

As Quebec’s economy minister, Jacques Daoust, said: “Let’s ask the question: should the state intervene to buy a hockey team in a situation deemed too risky by traditional financial markets? I’ll stop there.”

At any rate, the NHL continues to say it’s not formally considering expansion, and that no teams are in jeopardy of moving.

PS -- The Avs and Habs are playing a preseason game tonight in Quebec City. Tickets are not cheap.

Related: NHL won’t expand ‘just to fulfill somebody’s notion of symmetry’