Peter Karmanos (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos isn’t having any of the Quebec City relocation rumors. Karmanos said there rumors are baseless and stated “the Hurricanes will not become the Nordiques.”
The NHL has yet to make a formal decision on expansion but it seems increasingly likely that if the league does decide to expand, the lone expansion team will be granted to Las Vegas. However, with an NHL-ready building waiting for a big league tenant in Quebec City, rumors have been swirling about the potential for relocation.
One of the most persistent rumors is that the Hurricanes would be on the move, but Carolina’s owner Peter Karmanos made sure to snuff out those talks when speaking with Le Journal de Quebec’s Stephane Cadorette. Karmanos bluntly told Cadorette that, “the Hurricanes will not become the Nordiques.”
“I swear to you that the team is not going to Quebec,” Karmanos told Cadorette. “I’m not saying this because I have anything against Quebec, but because we have commitments that we value (in Carolina). We have an excellent lease, I love (PNC Arena) and I am deeply committed to this market.”
Karmanos added there’s “absolutely no basis” for the rumors, and told Cadorette that media are the only ones asking questions about Carolina’s potential relocation. Karmanos said people are trying to make a story out of nothing, and he said he hasn’t even so much as visited Quebec since the Hurricanes played the Canadiens two years ago. Speculation, however, has been that Karmanos met with Quebecor to negotiate a potential sale. Karmanos denied that.
“There has been no contact with Quebecor,” Karmanos told Cadorette. “Not once! Never!”
That doesn’t mean Karmanos doesn’t want to eventually sell the Hurricanes, though. It has been reported for close to a year that Karmanos has interest in selling the franchise — even if only in part — but he doesn’t wish for the team to relocate if he does sell. Karmanos said the arena lease deal in Carolina is too good to consider relocation, and, beyond that, Karmanos told Cadorette there’s no urgency on his part to sell the franchise.
“I’m only just beginning to assess my retirement options,” Karmanos said. “This is not a forced sale, there is no emergency.”
Though the Hurricanes played well this season and are set to finish the campaign no more than nine points out of a playoff spot, you wouldn’t know it by the abysmal attendance.
No team has had worse attendance this season than the Hurricanes, per ESPN, whose average attendance has been 12,203 this season. That’s more than 1,000 fewer fans than Arizona’s attendance, and Carolina is the only team in the league consistently selling less than two-thirds of the maximum attendance at home. In fact, the Hurricanes’ average of 65.3 percent capacity is the lowest by more than 12 percent.
In Forbes’ annual franchise valuations, the Hurricanes were ranked 28th at a value of $225 million. Only the Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers were given a lower valuation by Forbes. In addition, Forbes said the Hurricanes had an operating income of -11.7 million, which ranked behind only the Panthers and New York Islanders.