By Stu Hackel
For a few years now, every time NHL executives have been questioned about the possibility of the league returning a team to Quebec City, they’ve responded the same way: There are no teams available right now, and even if there were, the absence of a suitable arena makes it unlikely. But all that changed on Sunday when the city’s mayor and a corporate executive signed a long-anticipated deal on a new building. Ground is scheduled to be broken this fall and the arena will be ready in the fall of 2015.
That’s not an insignificant date. It coincides with the expiration of the lease that keeps the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. Of course, it’s also possible that the team now known as the Phoenix Coyotes will be ready at that time to move into the new Quebecor Colisee. The new Nordiques (or whatever they will be called) will have played the intervening three years in the old Pepsi Colisee, which is scheduled to get $7 million in emergency improvements starting this spring.
Of course, the Coyotes could move elsewhere, or maybe not move at all. And it’s possible that Quebec City’s new arena will not have an NHL tenant when it opens. But considering the delirious return of the NHL to Winnipeg last year, not too many people believe the league will forego a chance to create more delirium as soon as it can.