Fans of the Colorado Avalanche have long suffered the stigma of being seen simply as the Southern campus for the Quebec Nordiques in the eyes of hockey’s most hardcore fans. It was eighteen years ago that the Nordiques moved to Colorado from Quebec and became the Avalanche, and Avs fans are tired of hearing about it.
Inevitably though, someone in a barroom watching hockey somewhere in North America can’t resist reminding any Avalanche fan within earshot that, “It looks like the Nordiques are playing for another cup.”
It’s been four years since the Avalanche last made the playoffs. So there hadn’t been many Nordiques jabs in recent years but they’re back. At every Colorado Avalanche game in Denver there are a few Quebec Nordiques sweaters at the Pepsi Center, and fans aren’t tired of wearing them just yet. Some are where they belong, on the backs of entrenched French-Canadian ex-pats but there are plenty walking in on the shoulders of fans not yet born when Marcel Aubut sold Quebec’s only major professional sports team to COMSAT Entertainment and moved to Denver.
It would seem the Nordiques still-popular “igloo” logo has life as a retro fashion statement or a symbol of protest for teams stripped from their home soil for the sake of the almighty dollar. Someone should tell those fans seeking yester-year or those trying to rebel against change for the sake of money, that the popular red and blue “igloo with a hockey stick” was slated for change to a Siberian husky. That logo would have closely resembled the current logo of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves- had the team stayed in Quebec.
Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog, who scored the Avalanche’s first postseason goal in 2014, was only 2 years old when his team was moved from Quebec to Denver. Avalanche rookie sensation Nathan MacKinnon had just been born when the Avalanche first took the ice in October of 1995. Neither player made any mention of the fans in Quebec after the Avalanche’s stunning come-from-behind victory in the teams first game of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Both players admitted to “having goose bumps” at the chance to finally play for a Stanley Cup for a team they had known growing up.
Any of the remaining Quebec Nordiques have since retired from the NHL, the last active player being Adam Foote, who retired before the 2011-2012 season after sixteen years with the Nordiques/Avalanche franchise over two stints.
Colorado hockey fans never claim the New Jersey Devils as their own but the Devils were moved to New Jersey in 1982 after playing as Colorado’s NHL team through the last half of the 1970’s and into the early 1980’s. Their name: The Colorado Rockies. Had Major League Baseball never expanded into Denver or at least come to being after the return of the NHL, it stands to reason the Avalanche would have assumed that name.
Many feel it is only a matter of time before the NHL lands back in Quebec City, including Wayne Gretzky, once part-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, who, in recent years, are rumored to be on the way out of Phoenix. Most feel Seattle is their most likely destination in that scenario but one has to wonder. Should the NHL grant Quebec City a franchise (they are scheduled to open a new arena in 2015), it should be named the Quebec Nordiques. Then Colorado Avalanche fans can be tired of Pepsi Center ticket prices instead.
Commentary By Joseph Porter