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The Quebec Nordiques were a hockey team that existed from 1972 until 1995. The Nordiques played in both the WHA and NHL, with their biggest success in the NHL being 2 division championships. Some notable players for the Quebec Nordiques include the likes of Joe Sakic, Peter Stastny, Mats Suindin and Michel Goulet.
How Did The Quebec Nordiques Start Up?
The Nordiques were founded and formed as one of the initial World Hockey Association(WHA) teams. The WHA began in September 13th, 1971 and went on until the summer of 1979. The Nordiques were 1 of 12 teams to take part in the WHA.
Initially, the franchise actually went to San Francisco, who were going to create a team called the San Francisco Sharks. They had funding issues, and the owners of the Quebec Remparts junior team stepped in and bought the Franchise.
The name “Nordiques” comes from Quebec City being one of the most North teams in sports, with Quebec City at 46 degrees north latitude. The first head coach of the Quebec Nordiques was Maurice “Rocket” Richard. Unfortunately the legend only lasted 2 games, before deciding coaching wasn’t for him and resigned.
Quebec Nordiques in Competition:
From 1972 to 1979, the Nordiques participated in the WHA. The first season they made the playoffs was the 1974-1975 season, and got to the finals only to lose to the Houston Aeros. They made the playoffs the following season but lost in round 1. Their biggest success however came the season after as they won the Avco World Trophy.
After the 1978-79 season, the NHL and WHA merged due to financial problems within the WHA. The Nordiques joined the NHL as part of this merger. However due to a dispersal draft, the Nordiques squad was ripped apart and finished their first season bottom of the division.
The Nordiques quickly built their team, adding the Statsny brothers alongside Michel Goulet. Peter Stastny would then put up 109 points to win the Calder Trophy, leading them to the NHL Playoffs for the first time in 1981/1982.
This would not be the last time the Nordiques made the playoffs. They would end up hitting the playoffs every year for 7 straight years.
Quebec Nordiques Notable Moments:
The most notable thing about the Quebec Nordiques was their rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens. This rivaliry was fueled by politics, and the most heated point of the rivalry was in 1982. The two faced off in a playoff match, and there were many fights during the game.
As the second period came to a close however, and the Nordiques up 1-0, a massive brawl broke out between both teams. Then prior to the third period while warming up there was yet ANOTHER brawl with the whole thing leading to 10 ejections, and 252 penalty minutes handed out.
The Nordiques also knew how to draft. In the 1989 NHL entry draft, they were #1 and picked Mats Sundin. In the 1991 Entry draft, again with the first pick they went with Eric Lindros. However Eric Lindros refused to play for the Quebec Nordiques, and even refused to wear their jersey on Draft Day. This battle between Lindros and Nordiques would last 14 months, with the Nordiques continually stating they would build their whole franchise arond Lindros.
In June 1992 however the Nordiques caved, sending Lindros to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a whole host of players.
In a sad coincidence, although he went to the Chicago Blackhawks, Michel Goulet would end his career in Quebec in sad circumstances. During a Blackhawks vs Canadiens game, he suffered a concussion that was so severe he had to retire from hockey.
Quebec Nordiques Notable Players:
4 players had their numbers retired at the Nordiques. J.C. Tremblay #2, Marc Tardif #8, Michel Goulet #16 and Peter Stastny #26.
Peter Stastny was the top in points for the Nordiques. He played 737 games, scored 380 goals and had 668 assists for a points total of 1048.
Michel Goulet played the most game at the Nordiques with 813 games. During that time he scored 45 goals and got 489 assists. Both Stastny and Goulet are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The Nordiques also had Joe Sakic, a 15th draft pick in 1987 who would technically stay a Nordique for the rest of his career by staying with the Colorado Avalance.
What Happened to the Quebec Nordiques?
Finances were the issue. Even though the fans had started to come out in droves in recent years, a lot of the Canadian NHL teams were having issues with money due to player salaries going up and up over the previous few years. This, in conjunction with the Canadian dollar depleting, was causing some serious financial issues all throughout Canada.
The Nordiques attempted to get Quebecs government to assist them but they government turned them down. May 1995 saw the Nordiques have no choice, and owner Marcel Aubut sold the team to COMSAT Entertainment, who also owned the Denver Nuggets.
The Nordiques were relocated to Denver, and would play in the NHL under their new name, the Colorado Avalanche.
The Colorado Avalance would do something the Nordiques never did by winning the Stanley Cup in their very first season.