Meeting Gary Bettman: Eric Girard Charmed… by Wayne Gretzky

DENVER | Those who still have hope of seeing an NHL team in Quebec in the near future can stop dreaming. Unless Eric Girard, the provincial Treasury Secretary, managed to convince Wayne Gretzky to pull Gary Bettman’s ear.

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Nothing really came of the May 19 meeting between Eric Girard and Gary Bettman in New York. While walking through the Big Apple to meet investors from American banks, Mr. Girard took the opportunity to drop by the NHL’s offices and, it appears, kept lines of communication open.

A courtesy meeting that Mr Girard himself described as “extremely positive”.

On the sidelines of the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals, taking place in Denver Wednesday night, NHL commissioner and his assistant Bill Daly reveled in their traditional press conference. A unique opportunity to find out what happened between the four walls of the building on 9th Avenue, so that Mr. Girard came back so pleased.

“Actually, I need to split this meeting into two parts,” Bettman said when asked about it by this writer. The first was to reiterate that there is nothing new about a team returning to Quebec or the idea of ​​holding games there. [de saison régulière]. »

“The second, and he probably found it the most exciting, was when Wayne Gretzky happened to show up in the building. I know the minister is a big hockey fan. So I asked Wayne to come to the office and meet the minister. He and Wayne were able to have a great discussion. »

And apparently the time wasn’t for a session worthy of great seduction.

“They exchanged small talk [small talks] said Bettman.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman had little to say about hockey's return to Quebec.

Photo: AFP

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman had little to say about hockey’s return to Quebec.

Nothing new with the senses

By mentioning possible regular-season games at Old Capital, Bettman was referring to a rumor that circulated in late March that some Senators games could be played at the Videotron Center.

“Yes, the idea was floated, but it never came close to realizing. It wasn’t something Eugene Melnyk endorsed or came close to doing,” Bettman said.

He also assures that the concession of the federal capital is always stable, despite the death of its owner on March 28th. “Mr. Melnyk bequeathed the concession to his daughters. It works in the normal course of things. I know the senators are involved in a process to see if there’s a possibility of building a new amphitheater on LeBreton Flats. Nothing has changed. »

Treasury Secretary Eric Girard (right) and Deputy Secretary Pierre Côté meet with Wayne Gretzky May 19 at the NHL offices in New York.

Archive photo

Treasury Secretary Eric Girard (right) and Deputy Secretary Pierre Côté meet with Wayne Gretzky May 19 at the NHL offices in New York.

Gang rape investigation

In a very different register, MM. Daly and Bettman said they are active in the gang rape scandal that has rocked Hockey Canada in recent weeks.

“We are in contact with the NHL Players Association. So far the federation has been very cooperative in arranging and conducting the interviews we conduct with each of the players. [qui évoluait au sein] of this team,” said Daly. Of course, we’re also in contact with Hockey Canada. So the process is on its way.”

Recall that TSN journalist Rick Westhead revealed on May 26 that Hockey Canada had settled an alleged gang rape involving eight junior hockey players who assaulted a young woman following a June 2018 organization gala .

When asked how long the NHL had known about this story, Bettman replied, “Right when the lawsuit was filed. We didn’t know until then. We have allegations from one anonymous party against eight anonymous parties. It’s a difficult situation. But we didn’t know until then. »

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