They have a dream: Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume and Quebecor president Pierre Karl Péladeau want to bring an NHL team to a new NHL-calibre arena. Already $400 million of taxpayers’ money has been pledged to the arena project. See the following link for more.
1,100 fans taking a 536-mile bus trip to get the NHL back in Quebec City
10 December 2010 By JEFF Z. KLEIN (New York Times) -- An estimated 1,100 fans from Quebec are piling into chartered buses and heading to Nassau Coliseum for Saturday night?s game between the Islanders and the Atlanta Thrashers, intent on sending a message to N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman: We want a team of our own. This is not a demonstration, said Vincent Cauchon, a radio sports show host and a founder of Nordiques Nation, the fan group that is organizing the trip. We just want to show the N.H.L. that Quebec needs a team and is a better market; maybe a third of the markets in the N.H.L. aren?t doing so well right now. The Islanders and the Thrashers are in the midst of well-publicized attendance and financial problems. The Islanders, with the N.H.L.s worst record, are 28th in attendance; the Thrashers are 29th, despite having a winning record. One reason we picked Nassau is because every time we watched an Islanders game on TV, there was no one in there, said Cauchon, who noted that the price for the trip, hotel and game ticket was $200 per person. Still, it is the Thrashers, not the Islanders, who the Quebec fans have their eyes on, according to Cauchon. We have a lot of respect for the New York Islanders and what they accomplished in the past the N.H.L. needs the Islanders, Cauchon said. But it would be great, awesome, if the Thrashers moved. Atlanta is a great sports city, but it's not a hockey town. We're not going to New York to tell the N.H.L. they didn't do a good job going to Atlanta. We're going there to tell them in Quebec it would work. The Quebec fans, many of whom will be clad in the sweaters of the Nordiques, will take the 550-mile trip in 22 buses. They will cross the border at Champlain, N.Y., the organizers having sent each passenger's passport number ahead to speed the crossing through United States Customs. They expect to arrive in New York early Saturday and disperse to six hotels in New Jersey and Long Island. They will reassemble and head to the Coliseum at 3 p.m. for the 7 p.m. game. They will sit together in two blocks, behind each net. The Nordiques moved from Quebec to Denver in 1995 and became the Colorado Avalanche. But the mayor of Quebec , Régis Labeaume, is pushing to build a $400 million arena to lure an N.H.L. team back. The provincial government has pledged 45 percent of construction costs, but the Conservative-controlled federal government has not committed to public financing of the project. On Oct. 2, Nordiques Nation, which says it has more than 70,000 members, organized what it called a Blue March to mobilize support for the Nordiques' return. It drew 50,000 fans and 16 former Nordiques. Quebec City has what most cities don't: extraordinary support from the fans, the excitement, the atmosphere, the former Nordiques star Peter Stastny told the crowd. Despite repeated statements from Bettman and other N.H.L. officials that they do not want franchises to move, fans in Canada assert that some American teams lose so much money it is inevitable that one or two will move north. The Islanders' owner, Charles Wang, is locked in a longstanding battle with local governments over his plans to overhaul the Coliseum as part of a large real estate development called the Lighthouse Project. The Thrashers' president, Don Waddell, was candid earlier this week at the N.H.L. board of governors meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., about the need to find new investors for his money-losing team. Our owners are looking for partners, from very small to very large, Waddell said, adding that the constant talk of the Thrashers relocating does get frustrating. Despite the problems of the Thrashers and other Sun Belt teams like the Phoenix Coyotes, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars, the N.H.L. has gone to great lengths to prevent franchise shifts over the last decade. The league acted to keep the Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo Sabres in place when they went bankrupt early in the decade, and it bought the Coyotes out of bankruptcy and has operated them for a year and a half while pledging to keep them in the Phoenix area. But in Canada there is still resentment over what is seen as Bettman's failure in the 1990s to prevent the Nordiques and the Winnipeg Jets from relocating to Denver and Phoenix. The Coyotes' bankruptcy is seen as an example of a failed N.H.L. policy of Sun Belt expansion. Traditionalists argue that Canadian cities, now flush with a Canadian dollar at par with its American counterpart, make more cultural and economic sense as homes for N.H.L. teams.
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The Nordiques was born in 1972 as one of the original teams in the World Hockey Association, and joined the NHL as an expansion team in 1979, and moved to Colorado in 1995. Winning its only professional championship in 1977 over the Winnipeg Jets, the team through its years embraced many memorable hockey figures. The family of Nordiques includes Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard (the team’s first head coach), J.C. Tremblay, Serge Bernier (who in 1975 was awarded the MVP trophy that is now our ‘Torche’ MVP trophy), Rejean Houle, Peter Stastny, Guy Lafleur (1979), Joe Sakic, and Peter Forsberg.
On September 29, 2002, a group of us met on the ice of the West Rink at STR, and agreed to take up the legacy of the Nordiques, and have the team live on in where it should, in a hockey rink. We have taken the torch and held it very high for what is now approaching 10 years. Through that time, we have maintained ourselves as a team of character dedicated to the passion and true spirit of the great game of hockey. We have won. We have lost. Through every shift of every game, on and off the ice, we have remained close as a team, and embraced new members of our family as the team has grown.
"nos bras meutris vous tendent le flambeau, a vous toujours de la porter bien haut..."