A report has surfaced on Twitter this evening that the Atlanta Thrashers will move to Quebec City for the 2012-13 season. The reporter is citing anonymous sources, but he says his information is solid. I am not familiar with the Tweeter, so I can not say for certain that it can be trusted. However, the information he is reporting is very solid from the media point of view. It appears that the Thrashers were considering moving to Quebec City for next season; however, because of the Canadiens monopoly on the French TV market in Canada, this is impossible if they want to have any games on TV.
It appears that Quebecor, the owners of TVA, are interested in airing Nordiques games if they do return. It is likely that Quebec City would at least have to share their market with the Canadiens in Quebec and probably Atlantic Canada. It is possible that they would be able to televise their games nationally in French as well. With the current contract RDS has with the NHL, this would be impossible. Apparently Quebecor went to the CRTC with the case (I don’ have time to see if it is in public records now, but I will) and they were denied the ability to break the RDS contract.
As I mentioned Quebecor is the owner of the over-the-air channel TVA and they also have a license to launch a new sports channel that would compete with RDS called TVA Sports. I’ve always kind of assumed that TVA would be the logical place to put Nordiques games if the team ever returned to the league. I’ve also wondered about the logistics of a second team being put in Quebec because of the RDS contract, so all of this makes a lot of sense to me. What could be really interesting is that if TVA gets involved in Nordiques games, I wonder if the NHL would be interested in getting the Stanley Cup Finals back on over-the-air TV.
The reports also mention that the upcoming contract negotiations with American broadcasts have an impact on the NHL moving teams to Canada. While Atlanta and Pheonix don’t exactly have a lot of value to US broadcasts, they have a lot more value than franchises in Winnipeg or Quebec City. An Atlanta-Phoenix Stanley Cup Final would be bad, but not terrible, for NBC, but a Winnipeg-Quebec Stanley Cup Final would be terrible.
It will be interesting to see if these reports prove to be true. It could have an impact on English contracts as well if Winnipeg and Quebec City get teams in the next couple seasons. That could add more regional coverage for CBC and even an extra 20 games or more to TSN’s schedule. I’ll comment more on those issues if and when there is some type of confirmation of these rumours. Until then, remember this is Twitter and even the mainstream media has been wrong when reporting things via Twitter. It should be noted that these claims have been disputed by many.