As you’ve probably heard by now, the Winnipeg Jets are back. From 1996 until 2011, the Jets were gone from Canada.
As you know, few readers of my blog, I’ve been talking about this for a long time. I think several of my last posts have been talking about either the moving of the franchise or the Jets themselves. Not to predict the future, but I believe that I’ll be in Columbus to see the Jets on November 12th.
So, with the Winnipeg Jets becoming active again, where does it leave the two teams that left between 1995 and 1997?
I looked for a few things to talk about the Hartford Whalers, but couldn’t find a lot. There was a comment on ESPN saying how sick they were about “Save the Whalers” when they didn’t care the first time. I don’t have a link for that, though. It would be tough for that market to survive, due to the proximity of the Boston Bruins.
That leaves the Quebec Nordiques. Leaving Quebec City in 1995 for Colorado, the Nordiques have a similar history of playing in the World Hockey Association before jumping over to the National Hockey League. Complete history of the northern-most team is here from Sports E-Cyclopedia.
Besides being one of the smallest markets for sports in North America, the Nordiques biggest issues have to come from the arena (NHL thinks it’s too small.) Right now, there are two gentlemen trying to shoot down the government’s wishes to build a new hockey arena out of the taxpayer’s pocket (read it here from CTV Montreal.) If you look at the comments of the article from CTV Montreal, they don’t want the taxpayers to pay, but rather the big business’ pockets (look at what True North did with Winnipeg, minus the whole “Arena build for the Manitoba Moose” thing.)
The problem is, would the whole plan to get Quebec City a franchise back solid enough? Gary Bettman has mentioned to the Nordique Nation not to give their hopes up. Granted, there is no plans to expand, but there’s a few franchises struggling including the old Jets team. If there’s someone with some deep pockets, they could buy a team and relocate it.
There is demand however. Like I previously mentioned, there’s the Nordique Nation. What I didn’t mention is the fact that they actually traveled to a New York Islanders game to watch hockey. From what I understand, they were there for two things: hockey and Quebec Awareness in the NHL.
If this does happen, it won’t happen too soon. Expect a few seasons to pass before Quebec NHL is back on the ice…if it happens.
Source of information from Sports E-Cyclopedia, CTV Montreal, Bleacher Report, and Not-So-Cheap Seats (a blog about New York sports.)
Until next time (hopefully faster,)