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Bettman: No current opportunity for NHL to return to Quebec City

Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The imminent return of the Quebec Nordiques appears to be a long shot at this point.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman met virtually with Quebec finance minister Eric Girard on Thursday about the possibility of an NHL franchise returning to Quebec City, according to The Canadian Press.

Although both parties described the chat as "cordial," it did not yield the results Nordiques fans were seeking.

"We explained that, while we were appreciative and flattered by the interest expressed, unfortunately, we were not aware of any opportunity that could address that interest at the current time," Bettman said.

"We appreciate that the lines of communication between the parties have been refreshed, and we agreed to stay in touch with each other as circumstances warrant going forward."

Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced his interest in bringing an NHL franchise back to the province's capital last November, stating that there were meetings set up with Bettman in the coming months.

One thing Quebec City has in its favor is an NHL-ready arena. The Videotron Centre opened in 2015 and contains 18,259 seats, which would make it the 16th-largest rink in the NHL. The QMJHL's Quebec Remparts are currently the primary tenant.

The NHL recently expanded to 32 teams with the addition of the Seattle Kraken. With no further expansion plans on the horizon, a relocation is likely Quebec City's best chance at getting a team.

There has been plenty of speculation about the Arizona Coyotes' future in the desert in recent years. The city of Glendale informed the team in August that the 2021-22 campaign will be its last at Gila River Arena, but team president Xavier Gutierrez said at the time that the franchise is "100% committed to finding a long-term arena solution here in Arizona."

The Coyotes submitted a bid in September to build an arena in nearby Tempe, Arizona, but they reportedly don't currently have the votes in Tempe City Council to get approval. The team's plans for 2022-23 are unknown.

The Quebec Nordiques were an NHL team from 1979-95 before relocating to Colorado and becoming the Avalanche.

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