Just two months ago, the Atlanta Thrashers, flailing about with tepid management and low attendance, moved back to Canada and re-renamed the Winnipeg Jets. Not surprisingly after seeing that hockey returning to Canada is a real possibility, Quebec officials and Quebecor finally got its deal to build the $400 million arena in Quebec City. Could a return of the Quebec Nordiques be far away? After officials were able to pass a bill essentially staying any further lawsuits against construction of the Arena. The NHL is the next call for Quebec officials.
We have considered the various teams that were candidates for relocation – whether it be to Quebec or to another city – and the strongest case seems to be the New York Islanders. Just last week, the New York referendum permitting $400 million in loans to build a new hockey arena was resoundingly rejected by the region’s residents, leaving the Islanders to twist in the wind until its lease expires in 2015, not coincidentally, a new arena in Quebec would theoretically be ready the following year.
It’s really unfortunate. Before the Oilers dominated the NHL in the 1980’s, the Islanders were the best team in the league. Led by 50 goal scorer Mike Bossy, Mike Trottier and Billy Smith, the team experienced great success. As the arena grew older and the team’s glory years started fading, As the fan base stated following the Rangers and Devils, the Islanders were left with substandard facilities and substandard rosters. And with only 4 playoff appearances (all playoff series losses) since 1994, the fans stopped coming.
With the expiration fo the lease expiring right around the time that the Quebec arena will be done and with no hope of improvements to the stadium, it appears that the New York Islanders will soon be the Quebec Islanders.
It has a certain ring to it.