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Robin Short
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Could the Rogers TV deal have an impact on St. John’s? Well, maybe, if you consider this scenario

Has anyone noticed this week that just a couple of days after the National Hockey League announced its $5.3-billion television mega deal with Rogers Sportsnet, warning shots were fired regarding the Canadian loonie, suggesting it’s destined to fall below US90 cents in the new year?

Has anyone noticed this week that just a couple of days after the National Hockey League announced its $5.3-billion television mega deal with Rogers Sportsnet, warning shots were fired regarding the Canadian loonie, suggesting it’s destined to fall below US90 cents in the new year?

Wasn’t the weak Canadian dollar one of the reasons cited for the departure of the Winnipeg Jets, Part I, to Arizona, the Quebec Nordiques to Colorado back in the ’90s?

That was a long time ago, and the dollar, in fairness, was then a heck of lot more feeble than US80 or US85 cents.

Weak and Canada, however, cannot be used in the same sentence today, as Monday’s television deal proved in no uncertain terms that when it comes to the NHL, Canada is indeed a player.

Unrelated — but certainly not unnoticed — to the TV announcement was news breaking a day earlier from Forbes magazine that the Toronto Maple Leafs were the NHL’s most valuable franchise, and the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks were third and fourth on the final rankings.

Even the Jets, in one of the league’s smallest markets, certainly in the NHL’s smallest building, came in 16th.

So this is a very different time from the mid-1990s, when Winnipeg and Quebec City relocated, when there were talks of the Edmonton Oilers leaving and, yes — gasp! — the Canadiens potentially packing up and heading south.

What impact will this TV deal have on our little corner of the world?

Well, other than fact there will apparently be much more hockey available to television viewers, not much, really.

Unless ...

Perhaps we are about to put two and two together and come up with five. Maybe, after connecting the dots, we are left with only a squiggly, ambiguous image.

Or probably we are, as Marc Crawford used to say, just throwing dung at a wall and hoping it sticks.

Or we just have way too much time on our hands, and an imagination that’s running amok.

But it sure is fun to throw it out there.

So here goes:

Here in St. John’s, Winnipeg and Danny Williams/Glenn Stanford et al have about a year and a half left on the current contract that parks the Jets’ American Hockey League franchise — the IceCaps — in St. John’s.

Now, an extension to the new contract could be signed tomorrow, though I’m not convinced it’s going to happen. We’re already a quarter of the way through the season and Williams said back in October, “We’ll know this year where we are on a go-forward basis. If there is no extension, we’ll go back to the league to look for a franchise.”

That sure is easier said than done, but chew on this if you will.

As part of the Rogers deal, the CBC was allowed to retain “Hockey Night in Canada,” even if it is in name only. CBC will have no say in the production of the program and won’t make any money from “HNIC.” Nor will it spend any money.

Another offshoot of the 12-year deal sees the TVA Group, the television arm of Quebecor, pay $120 million a year to Rogers to be the NHL’s French language broadcaster.

The Canadiens, no doubt, are the crown jewel to TVA, but the skeptic in me suggests there is more than meets that TV station’s eye.

Up the road from Montreal, in Quebec City, workers are busy at a $400-million, multi-purpose arena project, with an eye on opening in 2015.

The man driving the project is Pierre Karl Péladeau, the same Pierre Karl Péladeau who was CEO of Quebecor before stepping down, but remains its largest shareholder and chairman of its media and television branches.

When asked Tuesday about expansion, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made it known, “(it) is not something we are embarking on in a formal process.”

That may be true right now. The league may not be having “formal” talks, but it’s difficult to believe Mssr. Péladeau would be driving a $400-million rink and a $1.4-billion TV deal without something up his sleeve for Quebec City.

Men of his pedigree, after all, do not look just a month or year down the road. They tend to plan things years in advance.

So it says here that when the contractors are done, and the cleaners have the new Quebec City arena done up like a stick of gum, Commissioner Bettman will be announcing Les Nordiques Part Deux, just as he did for the Jets.

And with a new NHL team, Quebec will need an AHL farm club.

Which brings us to St. John’s.

If the Jets elect to pluck their AHL franchise from Newfoundland for — oh, I don’t know, Sioux Falls, S.D. — that would leave St. John’s without a team starting in 2015-16.

Just when the Quebec City rink is slated to open.

Oh, one more thing, which is completely unrelated. Given our scenario — baseless as it is — consider this, as well: one Danny Williams also happens to be a major shareholder in Rogers.

You know. Just sayin’.


Why are the critics coming down on P.K. Subban? True, the Montreal Canadiens’ defenceman might run off at the mouth a bit — which, given today’s age of clichéd answers from professional athletes, it’s actually refreshing — and he might not be the most dependable defensive defenceman out there, but Subban is a supreme talent. On the big, European ice, he would be an enormous addition to Canada’s defence in the Olympics. ... Can’t wait to read Terry Ryan’s book, “Tales of a First-Round Nothing” ... Says here Roberto Luongo will be Canada’s starting goalie in the Sochi Olympics ... If you ever get to a Winter Olympics, you have to check out ski jumping and short track speed skating. Seriously ... While leaving short track at the Pacific Coliseum during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who crossed paths in front of me, was heard saying to, I assume, his wife: “That was so cool!” ...

Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TelyRobinShort

Organizations: National Hockey League, Winnipeg Jets, Montreal Canadiens Rogers Sportsnet American Hockey League Quebec Nordiques Forbes magazine Toronto Maple Leafs Vancouver Canucks Edmonton Oilers CBC TVA Quebecor

Geographic location: Canada, Quebec City, Winnipeg Arizona Colorado Montreal Newfoundland Sioux Falls, S.D. Vancouver

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