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Buzzing The Net

Serge Savard says QMJHL can’t ignore Trois-Rivieres if it builds an arena; Cataractes sure hope they can

Buzzing The Net

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Serge Savard is involved with Trois-Rivieres' bid to return to the QMJHL (Graham Hughes, The Canadian Press)

A Hockey Hall of Famer now sits on the side of Réal Breton and the Trois-Rivières’ prospective ownership group, and the Shawinigan Cataractes continue to ignore it and have their fingers in their ears singing camp songs.

The Trois-Rivières group is hoping they will all sing Kumbaya when the time comes, though right now would seem unlikely.

Montreal Canadiens legend Serge Savard, a recent former owner of the P.E.I. Rocket, said on Monday that, so long as a new arena is built in the city, Trois-Rivières is an obvious choice for a QMJHL team, expansion or otherwise.

“Other than Shawinigan, there are no other new arenas in Quebec,” Savard said. “How can the league pass up a new arena that seats 5,000?

“There are steps in place that have to be worked out. There must be a new arena, and they must negotiate for the territorial rights with [the] Shawinigan [Cataractes].

“If they can do that, there’s no way the league can ignore the Trois-Rivières market.”

The Cataractes have no plans to play ball. The team, 27 km away as the crow flies, maintain that they can’t thrive in a market cut in two. The team does have a veto, as all QMJHL teams do, barring a new franchise to set up shop within 40km of another team. The Cataractes plan to exercise that veto should the vote be taken.

The Trois-Rivières group will have to call on Breton, a former president of the Cataractes, and his merry men, including Montreal Canadiens’ owner Geoff Molson, to negotiate with the Cataractes and work out a deal for both franchises to co-exist in the Mauricie region. Breton left the Cataractes in 2012, after they won the Memorial Cup.

Trois-Rivières mayor Yvon Lévesque is eager to talk about the situation, but you can almost hear him squirm in his chair as he just barely maintains his composure.

“I can’t say anything for now,” he said. “I don’t want to ruin anything, so I can’t comment on the project, for now.

“There is an announcement coming soon involving the government on a strategic and political decision, but it’s in their hands and I can’t comment on it yet.”

Either way, having a Canadiens legend on the side of the return of the Draveurs excites the mayor.

“If there’s anyone who knows hockey, it’s him,” Lévesque said. “He has reason to believe what he does.”

Savard was the owner of the Rocket franchise with his son and other investors since the franchise’s inception in 2000 in Montreal. He oversaw the move of the team to Prince Edward Island and recently sold the team to local investors in April.

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