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Return of Quebec Nordiques rumors heat up as politicans discuss building a new arena

Sep 6, 2010, 5:00 PM EDT

nordiquesvsjets.jpgSports history has seen its fair share of cruel moments in franchise re-locations. One can only imagine how many Cleveland Browns fans felt sick to their stomachs when Art Model raised the Lombardi Trophy as his newly moved Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl.

Few re-locations dealt such an immediate blow as the Quebec Nordiques transition to the Colorado Avalanche. After never winning a Stanley Cup in Quebec, the Avalanche won the Cup in their first season in Denver. That, my friends, is brutal.

The province still yearns for another NHL team, so stoking rumors is probably a profitable venture. Karine Gagnon reports that the city is looking to add a new arena, a move that even Gary Bettman admitted would be a crucial proponent of gaining a new (or restoring the old?) team in Quebec.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest will meet with Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume next Tuesday to discuss the financing of a new arena in the provincial capital, QMI Agency has learned.

The premier is then expected to announce $400 million in provincial funds to help pay for the project.

Charest has expressed enthusiasm for the project in the past, saying in June a city the size of Quebec should have modern facilities.

A new arena is a key stepping stone to getting the Nordiques NHL franchise to return to the province.

As is often the case when it comes to large city projects worth almost half a billion dollars, the matters boil down to a lot of political back stories. Will local and federal governments help pay for the new arena or will local residents need to pony up to make it happen? And would a new arena be enough to attract an NHL team – expansion or otherwise – to Canada for the first time in ages?

It’s too early to know the answer to those questions, but if any region is worthy of a team again, it’s Quebec City. (Not to say that Winnipeg isn’t deserving either, but the former certainly boasts a healthier hockey population than the latter.)

  1. Brent Hoven - Sep 7, 2010 at 12:13 AM

    Note on the “first year in Colorado” tidbit:
    IIRC, there were rumors of the Nordiques (ahem) not playing to their potential to get the high draft picks for a few years straight, to make a high caliber team. Then they moved, and boom. These rumors had nothing to do with the move, simply the insta-turnaround.
    This was similar to the Sharks’ accusations against the Senators of throwing games to get Alexander Daigle as the #1 in the 1993 draft; this led to the lottery system we have today.

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