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Carolina Hurricanes relocation rumors will never end, apparently

Today in Pack Up The Moving Vans: Quebec reportedly meets with Karmanos. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

PNC Arena inside stock photo
We know, we know, we know.
Jamie Kellner

You know what the definition of a circular argument is? Why, yes, you're right, that would be one in which you argue a point and cite for evidence a factor that is directly impacted by the point you're arguing.

For example: Attendance is down at Carolina Hurricanes games, which inspires relocation talk, which causes even lower attendance.

Which brings us to our annual rite of spring, the "The Canes are moving because their attendance is terrible!" hot takes.

Today, it's the Quebec media that's making noise that Canes owner Peter Karmanos met with representatives from Quebecor, the company that has expressed an interest in acquiring a team for its arena in Quebec City. Over the weekend, a Montreal radio station tweeted that word on the street was that Karmanos held a meeting in which the Quebec conglomerate reportedly inquired about the availability of the Canes franchise.

Le Journal de Montréal reported basically the same thing last Wednesday, so clearly this is a rumor that has some legs in La Belle Province.

As Greg Wyshynski, who aggregated the latest turns in this soap opera (and don't blame him; he tackled this from a totally unbiased place), says quite rightly: there's no word on exactly what was discussed between Karmanos and Quebecor, and it could very well have been much ado about nothing.

But there are some concerning angles to this story, more than just the usual idle speculation, that should give all Canes fans a bit of pause.

First, one of the reporters who has been discussing this is Sportsnet's John Shannon, who might be the most plugged-in source on Canadian TV when it comes to internal league dealings (as opposed to roster movements and the like) given that he worked for the league itself for many years. When Shannon says to pay attention to something involving the league itself, it's worth taking notice.

Via Puck Daddy, Shannon dropped this minor bomb: "I don’t see it salvageable with this ownership at this point."

Now, it should be said that Shannon was appearing on radio in Quebec City, of all places, and the first rule of broadcasting is to know your audience, so one would presume that he wouldn't have been invited on if his news had been "yeah, forget it, the Hurricanes aren't moving here." But if Shannon is talking about it, you can bet that someone on Sixth Avenue is also talking about it; the question is how far those discussions have gone, not whether they've occurred.

Second, there's the eternal reciting of the Canes' lease agreement with the Centennial Authority, which every Canes fan pretty much knows by heart at this point: locked in until 2024, 100% of parking and concessions for all non-NCSU events, cut rates on utilities and insurance, etc., etc., etc. But here's the thing: money talks, and certain markets are so hard-up for the NHL that you have to think they'd be willing to pay off the Authority to break the lease.

Remember, the Authority has nothing to do with the Hurricanes outside of the business relationship. It's a political entity. You don't think that a political entity would be tempted by an offer of hundreds of millions of dollars in cold, hard cash - not a promise for future payments?

And finally, there's the big one: selling a team requires a buyer, and we all know that Karmanos has been looking for a buyer (under his rather odd conditions) for some time. For all its growth as a market, Raleigh has a bit of an unusual distinction: very few companies are actually headquartered here. Quintiles is the sole Fortune 500 company with a headquarters in the market, and it's way down at No. 476.

So you'd be looking at local philanthropists, or a Nashville-type situation of multiple partners. Ideally that's what Karmanos wants, but do those multiple partners exist? (Ignore for a second the multiple minority partners who bought into the team a few years ago; one or two of them may be ready for majority ownership, but they would need additional funding to make it work.)

Don Waddell, perhaps anticipating what was to come, went on a media tour last week where he toed the company line for the umpteenth time that the team isn't moving anywhere. Which is true to a point; Karmanos won't move it on his own. The larger concern is that he will sell to someone who will be less tied to this market and more open to the possibility of a move, and without a white knight riding in dedicated to this market who is willing to meet Karmanos' asking price, that becomes more of a likelihood with each passing day.

No, the Hurricanes aren't moving this offseason. You can take that to the bank. But the day of reckoning is getting closer every day, and every day that it does without a resolution, these flareups from other markets will continue getting more numerous.

#WeatherTheStorm, indeed.