Here we go again!

In 1995, Québec City’s National Hockey League team, the Nordiques, was sold to new investors and moved to Denver, where they became the Colorado Avalanche. To add insult to injury, the team won the Stanley Cup the year after they left Québec City. It was a dagger to the heart of Québec City hockey fans.

Since then, city authorities have been working to bring a team back. Most notably, they built an NHL-ready hockey arena in the Lower Town. They built it on spec. In other words, they had no promise of a team; they built it so that they could say “OK, NHL, we are ready to go. Give us a team!” Along with this multi-million-dollar token of goodwill, NHL enthusiasts in Québec City have an excellent argument: Cities across the South – Miami, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Phoenix – where there is nary a speck of natural ice to be found, have NHL teams. Québec City, where ice is part of our reality for 6 months of the year, doesn’t. It is an absolute travesty, if you ask me! Why would the NHL put a hockey team in Miami, for instance? Well, because it has millions of people. But Miami only has eight (fair-weather) hockey fans! And all eight of them are Canadian snowbirds who spend their winters there! Here in the Québec City metropolitan area, we have 850,000 people and we have 850,000 hockey fans. I want the Nordiques back now! You might sense that I get a little worked up over the matter. Understand that I am not even from here. Now imagine how someone who grew up rooting for the Nordiques feels about it.

For several years now, the Capitale Nationale has had its eye on the Phoenix Coyotes, a team that has had a troubled relationship with its host city, Glendale, Arizona. In fact, every time someone on the Glendale City Council sneezes, it makes the news here in Québec City, provoking another round of speculation and optimism among Québec City hockey fans. Well, the city council has sneezed again. They have just voted to terminate the Coyote’s lease on the Gila River Arena. Here we go again!

Are the chances good that this turn of events will bring a team back to Québec City? Frankly, no. NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, has said that he is committed to keeping the Coyotes in Arizona. And even if that is not possible, smart money says that Houston, yet another sunbelt city, is next in line to put a team on the ice.

This reality will not prevent Québec City hockey fans from buzzing with optimism. I am among those hockey fans. Go, Nordiques, go!!!

12 thoughts on “Here we go again!”

  1. Good post my friend! I still think the Nordique thing is not fair. It’s all about the USD and the TV money. We should have known that before building a arena. But, this Nordique thing gave us a beautiful place to gather anyways, for any other type of event. Thanks for the post and have a great day!

    1. You are right, Bernard. The Videotron Centre seems to have been a success with or without the return of the Nordiques. Nice hearing from you!

  2. Colette Parayre

    It is evident that this is “mauvaise foi” de la part de Gary Bettman who never wanted to have a hockey team in Quebec City, from the start. How come a single man can influence that decision ? I presume there are other responsible people in the NHL ?… this looks like another powerful man who runs this show….seems like déjà vu ???
    Merci Neil de ressentir la frustration des gens de Québec qui y ont tellement cru ! Amitiés, Colette

    1. You are right, Audrey. Unimaginable! Just for the record though: Québec City does have an excellent team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: The Ramparts. They bring life to the Videotron Centre. It is the NHL that doesn’t seem interested in Québec City.

  3. Not having an NHL hockey IN quebec City is like a similar-sized city in Brazil not having a professional soccer team…it just should not happen!
    Thanks Neil. Another great post!!

  4. The hockey games between Montreal and Quebec were epic. This rivalry made hockey interesting. Hockey was filling headlines almost 12 months a year!
    When I was young, I was playing hockey outside and later in arenas and during spring and autumn in the streets! Hockey is part of our DNA.
    Sincerely, I think that Mr. Bettman does not understand all the stakes of such a rivalry on the whole league. But what makes Mr. Bettman so stubborn?

  5. Hi Neil,
    However, even if I’m a real hockey fan for more than 50 years now (actually, I attended many Nordiques’ games during their best years in Quebec), Gary Bettman’s decision is not easy to accept…but so easy to understand…$$$$$. Quebec is certainly one of the most beautiful city in America, where the quality life is honestly exceptional (Neil who lives here for many years now, can certainly attest to that), but (as there is a but…) generally speaking, Quebec City is not rich enough to support a NHL team, especialy because the big private corporations are quite rare in Quebec City and that our natural market is not so large (Montreal is quite close). It’s the reason why, 25 years ago, our mayor M. JP L’Allier, a remarkable man, decided to resist the public pressure, not to support this league of rich millionnaires and billionnaires, but instead to invest our collective wealth in our infrastructures, including especially arts, to beautify, and even enhance, our unique architectural and natural patrimony, what he (and his successors) certainly succeeded to do. And it’s not finished yet.

  6. Pierre Bélisle

    It reminds me of the saga between the city of Montreal and the Formula 1 race, when Bernie Ecclestone was in place, every year having a Formula 1 race in Montreal was complicated and more expensive.
    In 2017, when Ecclestone was replaced by the new owners, after a few months a new multi year contract was signed between the Montréal and the new owners.

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