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If the Coyotes don’t move to Quebec City, the Nordiques will never come back
When the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg, Quebec City clung to the hope that the Hurricanes, Panthers or Coyotes would one day move.

When the Hurricanes stayed in Carolina despite strong rumors linking the club to Quebec City, people clung to the hope that the Panthers or Coyotes would move.

When Vegas and Seattle got the NHL’s 31st and 32nd teams and the Panthers relocated, Quebec City clung to the Coyotes’ lingering predicament.

See where I’m going?

If the Coyotes don’t move to Quebec City, the Nordiques won’t be back for a long, long time.

And we’re not talking five or ten years. We’re talking about a period of time that will seem like an eternity. It’s the last hope, quite simply, of seeing professional field hockey return to Quebec’s capital. And the hope is slim – very slim. It’s more than likely that an entire generation of Nordiques fans will soon be able to say with almost complete confidence that they’ll never see their team return in their lifetime.

Expansion vs. relocation

Theoretically, the League should want to keep a market like Houston for expansion. It’s the kind of city that will bring money into the league coffers: a city of 2.3 million people, an owner with deep pockets… It’s perfect for justifying exorbitant expansion fees, which Quebec City will probably never be able to pay.

Historically, the Thrashers’ move is more akin to the Coyotes’ situation, and it was to a small Canadian market that they had moved – Winnipeg.

It’s now or never – the circumstances are perfect to justify a Nordiques return to Quebec City, since a Jets return to Winnipeg has already been justified in a similar environment.

Now, if Gary Bettman and the owners choose a small, untapped and risky American market (Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Kansas City) over a small, passionate Canadian market like Quebec City, that’ll be the end of it. If the city can’t even stand out from the pack when circumstances don’t favor the big American metropolises, it will never come out a winner with an NHL franchise.

Sad, but true. And with the Canadian dollar and the uncertainty surrounding PKP/Québécor, Québec isn’t giving itself the best of chances.

It’s important to note, however, that Philippe Boucher believes there’s more than one person who’d be willing to write the cheque for a team in the nation’s capital.

Knowing that it won’t be by way of expansion, that the market has been ignored in two consecutive moves and that every other market in the circuit seems to be well in the saddle, the Nordiques will simply never return.

The League thinks about money, like any business. That’s the way it should be. But you can’t turn your back on those who keep the sport alive without risking compromising passion and interest – and Canadian fans will end up feeling let down.

En Rafale

– Comments from Quebec City mayor Bruno Marchand.

– A side note, but in your head, for fun.

– Read more.

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