With the clock ticking on Hockey Canada's requirement of a strong organizing committee, the Quebec City portion of the 2008 World Hockey Championship tournament could be at risk.
Hockey Canada is expressing a bit of frustration with local authorities in the Quebec capital, and has given them seven days to have a proper committee and some semblance of a business plan in place, or they very well may lose the rights to the games.
The original plan was for Quebec and Halifax to split the tournament, which is venturing out of its normal European base as part of the centennial celebrations of the World Championship. It was also to be used to help celebrate the 400th anniversary of Quebec City's founding, a year long celebration that Hockey Canada felt would fit in nicely with the IIHF's hopes for the tournament.
Hockey Canada has said that their first preference is still to hold the tournament in Halifax and Quebec City, but that if the city can't get it's act together in the next seven days they'll look at alternative sites, already Winnipeg and Hamilton have been mentioned as possible relocation sites for the recalcitrant Quebecois.
The move is seen by many as a way to make Quebec City's business community step up and rise to the occasion, lest they suffer a black eye over the transfer of hosting duties. Needless to say the threats by Hockey Canada aren't sitting to well with the locals, especially those in the hotel and hospitality industry who stand to gain quite a winfall with the tournament in town.
However, they may have no one but themselves to blame, the mayor had even gone so far as to suggest that she was thinking of reneging on the hosting duties and then turned around and stated that Hockey Canada can't just pull the plug like that, they have a contractual obligation. We believe this is the have our cake and eat it too approach to negotiating eh!
Hockey Canada however is more concerned about expectations, the IIHF by moving their showpiece tournament to Canada for the centennial is hoping for a pretty impressive show. Having questions about organization and funding is not something that they will want to hear about.
While it seems rather tense at the moment, we suspect that as the seven day deadline draws to a close we will find that the tournament will remain in Quebec City, sometimes you need a little incentive to get the wheels moving.
Hockey Canada decided to provide the push, it's up to Quebec City now to decide if they wish to remain on the hockey radar or drop off, perhaps for a good long time.