Has it really been 15 years since the Quebec Nordiques, due to financial considerations and the changing landscape of the NHL at the time, moved from Quebec City to Denver? It seems like just yesterday, though, if one takes into consideration the 1,000 plus fans who journeyed from all regions of Quebec to the game on Saturday night on Long Island, New York between two of the four NHL franchises (Phoenix Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers would be Numbers 3 and 4) who may be looking into a move from their current home digs, the Atlanta Thrashers and the New York Islanders.
The game wasn’t as important as the Nordiques fans who came to celebrate their team – it being the culmination of weeks of pressure from the local and Provincial governments to move one of the moribund franchises back to Quebec City. In fact as part of the demonstration back in October that was attended by more than 50,000 Nordiques fans, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stated that in order for the NHL to consider permitting a move back to Quebec, that it would need to build a state of the art facility that could compete with the larger arenas in the NHL. At an expected cost of $400 million Canadian Dollars, the Province and the City have agreed to fund over 50% of the costs of the new arena that would replace Le Colisee. The team would require contributions from the Federal Government to fund the remainder of the costs – or rely on a new owner to fund the construction costs.
The problems that caused the original move to Colorado may still remain however. Quebec City would remain one of the smaller markets in the NHL and it would still have to compete by paying U.S. dollars to players while collecting Canadian dollars at the gate (although that is less of an issue today than it was 15 years ago). Less of a consideration is that unless the Islanders were to move there, consderable realignment would have to take place. Neither the Thrashers nor the Coyotes play in a division (or conference for that matter) that would be conducive to a new Quebec team. The NHL would be served better, however by returning teams to regions that want them – Quebec, Winnipeg and Hartford.