There’s been a lot of chatter recently about the rebirth of the Quebec Nordiques.
Many pure laine are interested in bringing their old colours out of the closet, others can’t wait to see the good old Canadiens-Nordiques rivalry again, while others still are just happy with the possibility of another team moving back home, north of the border.
The first obstacle is getting a new arena for Quebec City. At an estimated $400 million, that’s no easy feat, especially with the economy still serving a two minute minor for diving.
Premier Jean Charest has done his part by throwing a cool $175 million loonies into the formula and has asked the feds to balance the equation. Stephen Harper seems open to the idea – as long as it remains politically relevant.
The second obstacle – and this one actually might be bigger than the first – is getting a struggling American franchise to relocate to Quebec. Look, there’s definitely no lack of struggling franchises (Atlanta, Florida, Phoenix, Columbus – if you look at the bottom of the barrel) but the NHL and especially Commissioner Gary Bettman want to move teams about as much as they like long, front-loaded contracts.
But some teams are really struggling.
If I remember correctly, the Coyotes have been for sale since before they existed, the Thrashers don’t have Ilya Kovalchuck anymore and who would want to go watch the Panthers when King James be bringin’ it to SoFlo?
Hope for the Nordiques?
Nothing gets an arena built like government money and like it or not Gary, hockey just ain’t popular everywhere.
So maybe where there’s a will, there’s a way.
And that will should be our will.
No, not us as in Canadians.
Not as Quebecers either.
Or even as hockey fans.
Getting a team back in the 418 should be the single most important objective of Habs fans everywhere.
The Montreal Canadiens, by most accounts – player and media alike – play in a pressure cooker that has no comparison in hockey. We are the most storied franchise in the NHL. We’re 100 years old and it feels like we invented the sport. We were the last Canadian team to bring home the Stanley Cup.
But that’s not it.
The Canadiens don’t just play for their fans, this city, or even this province – they play with the weight of an entire culture on their backs.
Nous sommes Canadiens.
Is there any other place in the world where a local politician could come up with a conspiracy theory concerning a sports team and the evil federalist empire?
Pierre Curzi wants a team in Quebec:
That’s why Quebecers wanted a second National Hockey League team in Quebec City, so that “we’ll have a team that will be our team, that will resemble us.”
While I don’t agree with Curzi, his politics or his social views, I do agree that Quebec needs a team. And it needs a team because of people like Curzi.
The Montreal Canadiens should be allowed to play hockey. They shouldn’t have to worry about politics and language debates. Pro sports are a way to unite communities and provide entertainment to hard-working citizens. They’re supposed to be fun.
But more and more, the Montreal Canadiens are being politicized. There aren’t enough Quebec-born players on the team. The Captain – who was the team’s best player for over a decade – didn’t speak enough French. The coach – even more important than being a good coach – has to be bilingual.
As an sports organization where winning is very difficult to begin with, there are just too many restrictions and too many things too worry about on a daily basis.
The ice is no place to bring our cultural hang-ups.
But over the past few years there has been no escaping it. There has always been a scandal, a debate, a battle.
It’s time to let off a little steam.
A team in Quebec City would immediately help the Montreal Canadiens. Suddenly the scrutiny, the criticisms, the glaring eyes – they would all be divided amongst two teams. Two teams, two solitudes? I wouldn’t go that far. Love of the ‘Diques goes back and for the Habs – way back. Theses won’t be English/French teams.
The Habs, however, would have some breathing room.
Maybe our next Captain won’t have to get on the ice worrying that he’ll be blasted in the media for conjugating a verb incorrectly.
If hockey is 80% mental, then the Quebec Nordiques should be just what the doctor ordered.
(Who still had a team when we last won the Cup?)
So, let’s get this deal done.
Struggling NHL franchises in the USA: please keep struggling.
Fans of the Montreal Canadiens: make a pledge to help bring back the Nordiques to Quebec – and the Cup back to Montreal. Let me be the first to commit $100 to the Quebec Nordiques Renaissance Fund.
With the support of Habs fans – how many of us are there? – a million? – ten million? – les Nordiques will live again!