Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard said Wednesday that the Quebec government, the Ottawa Senators and Quebecor are exploring the possibility of Ottawa and Quebec City entering a joint bid to host the 2023 world junior men's hockey championship.

The tournament, which is scheduled to begin on Boxing Day in Novosibirsk, Russia, but was left without a host city after the International Ice Hockey Federation announced on Feb. 28 that it was withdrawing Russia's privilege to host international hockey tournaments in reaction to the invasion of Ukraine.

Girard also said Wednesday that the possibility of Quebec City hosting some Ottawa Senators games was brought up during a January meeting he had with National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman.

He said "both sides" had expressed an interest in the idea.

"But at this stage, it's preliminary," said Girard.

La Presse reported Wednesday that the Quebec government, the NHL, the Ottawa Senators and Quebecor have been in talks about the possibility of hosting five Senators games at Quebec City's Videotron Centre next season, but Sens president Anthony LeBlanc has thrown cold water on the idea.

LeBlanc told the Ottawa Sun that while Quebecor, which owns the Videotron Centre, had expressed an interest in hosting neutral-site games in Quebec City, no real negotiations had taken place.

While he did confirmed the Senators have held discussions with Quebec City regarding the potential of a joint bid on the world junior tournament, he said the suggestion that the Senators would be playing any games in Quebec City next season was "very disingenuous."

The possibility of hosting NHL games in Quebec City has come up in talks between the league and the province, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Canadian Press, but the discussions have not moved past the “very preliminary phases.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2022.