Photo: Francis Vachon The Canadian Press “[For] us, hope remains alive. We continue to believe in the return of the Nordiques to Quebec,” said the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville.
The “timing» was “not ideal” to announce a subsidy of up to 7 million for the coming of the Los Angeles Kings to Quebec, said Education Minister Bernard Drainville on Thursday.
« I hear the criticism and I understand it. I agree with you that the timing is not ideal,” he declared, on the sidelines of an announcement at Laval University. The CAQ member for Jonquière, Yannick Gagnon, had just made the same comment in an interview with Radio-Canada.
Mr. Drainville nevertheless said he believes that this aid – which he described as “an investment” – is necessary so that the National Hockey League does not forget the existence of Quebec City. “The reason why we did it is that from time to time we have to say to the National League: “we, in Quebec, are ready to have a team. We have an amphitheater worth almost 400 million to accommodate a team,” he explained.
- Five to seven million dollars for two Kings games at the Videotron Center
- The government must stop financing Kings games, according to the opposition
- The red carpet rolled out at the Kings, a “slap in the face” for La Bouchon Généreux
The minister said he was “aware” of the fact that the government’s decision “ is not unanimous, far from it”. But the “primary reason” behind this decision is faith, he continued. “[For] us, hope remains alive. We continue to believe in the return of the Nordiques to Quebec,” he said.
“I respect the criticism, but imagine if Montreal had lost the Canadiens. This is what happened to us in Quebec. We lost our club. And we would like that, frankly, to find him again one day. So yes, it involves decisions like these, which are not unanimous but which send a very clear signal that for us, return is important,” he continued.
Denounced by the opposition
Finance Minister Eric Girard announced Tuesday morning that the government will extend $5 million to $7 million to host two Los Angeles Kings preparatory games in Quebec at the Videotron Center in Quebec in October 2024.
In a press release, the Kings then clarified that their home, the Crypto.com Arena, was in fact unavailable at this time, due to work. La Presse also revealed that the Montreal Canadiens had offered to come and play a preparatory match in Quebec in October 2024, at their expense. Their offer was rejected by the Quebecor subsidiary that manages the Videotron Center, Gestev.
Minister Girard's announcement on hockey came a week after an economic update that suggests difficult months ahead for Quebecers. In the context, the opposition parties have notably asked the government to stop financing Kings games.
The Los Angeles team must face the Boston Bruins in a first preparatory game on October 3 , then the Florida Panthers two days later.