A modest proposal

As our Paul Wells reported yesterday, the Prime Minister has broached the subject of an NHL team for Quebec with league commissioner Gary Bettman. And as our Philippe Gohier noted, the proposed arena for Quebec City would be run as a crown corporation. The federal government’s initial contribution to that effort would be $175 million.

The last time Forbes magazine produced valuations for the NHL’s 30 franchises, it put the Edmonton Oilers at $166 million. That was nearly a year ago, but it is unlikely the Oilers have appreciated significantly since, so for perhaps the same amount of federal money that would go toward an arena for a privately owned NHL team, the Harper government could purchase its own hockey team and run that as a crown corporation (or perhaps as a public trust, borrowing from the model of the Green Bay Packers).

The current roster includes a number of young and promising players. With wise management—General Manager Stephen Harper?—the team could be will set-up for sustained success going forward. Indeed, from that standpoint, this would seem a good buying opportunity.

Alternatively, perhaps the Prime Minister could offer to buy any of the six struggling American franchises that are valued at less than the Oilers, with designs on moving that team to Quebec City. In either scenario, why would we settle on owning the arena in which a professional ice hockey team plays when we could own the professional ice hockey team itself?