Would love to see the return of the Nordiques.
Here's the article
The Only Thing Missing Is a Team
Quebec's Nordiques Moved On Years Ago, but Their Fans Have Not; The 'Hippies' of the NHL
Three years ago, Jerome Landry founded a fan club for a professional hockey team in his hometown of Quebec City. Since then, he says, it has grown to include 90,000 members.
What makes this particular fan club unusual, beyond the sheer number of people who belong to it, is the status of the team it supports—the Quebec Nordiques. In case you'd forgotten, the Nordiques don't currently exist. They packed up their sticks and skates in 1995 and moved to Denver.
To overcome the small inconvenience of not having an actual team to root for, the members of Nordiques Nation organize trips to NHL games in other cities, where they show up wearing the disbanded team's traditional sky-blue jerseys. To make their presence known, and to make it clear that they are still not happy about their team's departure, they consume as many beers and hot dogs as they can and stand up to scream their brains out whenever the game clock shows 17 minutes remaining in a period (the Nordiques have now been gone for 17 seasons).
"We're like the hippies of hockey," said Landry, a 36-year-old radio talk-show host. "We just want to get our team back."
In 1995, after 24 years in the NHL and before that, the long-defunct World Hockey Association, the team—citing financial problems—moved the franchise to Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche.
Some fans just started following the local junior team, the Quebec Remparts, which draw 11,000 fans to the Nordiques' old rink, Colisee Pepsi. Some young fans simply transferred their NHL allegiance to the rival Montreal Canadiens, who play a mere 160 miles away.
But for Nordiques die-hards, junior hockey won't suffice, and rooting for the loathsome Canadiens was never an option. As the NHL playoffs approach next week, the absence of the Nordiques continues to torment them like a phantom itch.
In the last month, however, hope in this hockey-gaga city of half a million has reached a new high. A series of news reports have suggested the NHL, which has controlled the Phoenix Coyotes since its owner declared bankruptcy in 2009, may consider moving the team here—or giving the city an expansion franchise. While an NHL spokesman declined to comment on the matter, one thing is perfectly clear: If the NHL does decide to return to Quebec City, the townspeople will be ready.
In the summer of 2010, Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume asked for the public's support to build an arena that could support an NHL team—even though there was no promise of landing one. Construction has begun on the new arena, a $400 million project, paid for with public funds, that is scheduled to be finished in 2015. The Nordiques even have a prospective owner: Pierre Karl Peladeau, who last month stepped down as chief executive of the media and cable firm Quebecor Inc. QBR.B.T +0.97% Through a spokesman, Peladeau declined to comment. The frenzy is so intense that every souvenir shop along this city's cobblestone streets has Nordiques paraphernalia hanging in the window.
"They're alive," former Nordiques defenseman Dave Pichette said, if only "in the minds of the people."
"They're very close to their team and proud of their city," said Rejean Houle, who played three years for the Nordiques in the mid-1970s. "For them, when the Nordiques left, that was a catastrophe."
The Nordiques didn't go out on a high note. After seven consecutive playoff appearances, the team finished in last place every year from 1988 to 1992 and was wasting away in the league's second-smallest market. The nadir came in 1991, when superstar Eric Lindros refused to sign with the Nordiques after they selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. By trading Lindros's rights to the Philadelphia Flyers for a stockpile of players and draft picks, the Nordiques were able to rebuild their roster and renew the city's enthusiasm. But in 1995, the lagging value of the Canadian dollar forced owner Marcel Aubut to sell. The following year, the Avalanche—not the Nordiques—won the Stanley Cup.
"It was very, very hard," said François Vallerand, 29, an assistant manager at Logo Sport, a sports-apparel store. "It's kind of your identity. Quebec City is not very big, so it's kind of all we had here."
Benoit Clairoux, the author of "'Les Nordiques de Quebec: 1972-1995," said Quebec City's attachment to the team is tied to an inferiority complex. The Nordiques played in the same division as the Canadiens, who have won a record 24 Stanley Cups. In five postseason meetings, Montreal won three.
Paul Gillis, a former Nordiques forward, said the games were so heated, "you can't even describe the energy." One 1984 playoff matchup, called "the Good Friday Massacre," featured 252 penalty minutes and 10 ejections and, in some cases, divided families.
New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur grew up a Canadiens fan in Montreal, but his mother, Mirielle, who was from Rivière-du-Loup, near Quebec City, rooted for the Nordiques. "She was the only one," he said. "She stayed strong."
Craig Wolanin, a former Nordiques defenseman, recalled meeting a man at Saint François d'Assise Hospital in 1995 whose wife was pregnant with twins. After the woman gave birth, Wolanin said, he asked the man how the twins were doing. "He said, 'They're doing fine,'" Wolanin recalled. "'You just make sure that you beat the Canadiens on Thursday.'"
During a visit to the construction site for the new arena, Labeaume, the Quebec mayor, waded through cold, gray mud, stopping at a spot where one of the rink's faceoff circles will likely be, and pointed to a Nordiques flag flying from an industrial crane. After taking office in a special election in 2007, he was re-elected with 80% of the vote—an indication, he said, of how popular the arena project is. He said he's confident he'll win again because he has "delivered the merchandise
Thousands showed up in 2010 for a rally to support the campaign to bring back the Nordiques. Thousands attended the arena's groundbreaking ceremony last year. And it bothered none of them, Labeaume said, that the money to build the place would come from their pockets.
"They don't bloody care," he said. "They just want to have a hockey team."
CALGARY, AB -- The 2013 WHL Playoffs Conference Championship series’ open today as the quest for the Ed Chynoweth Cup and a spot in the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament in Saskatoon, SK, continues.
The Portland Winterhawks have made it three straight years in the Kal Tire WHL Western Conference Championship series, moving through the Everett Silvertips in six games and sweeping aside the Spokane Chiefs in the first two rounds of the 2013 WHL playoffs.
The Kamloops Blazers are making their first trip to the Western Conference final since 1999 after knocking off the Victoria Royals in six games in the opening round then sweeping the B.C. Division Champion Kelowna Rockets in the second round.
Can Brendan Leipsic and the Portland Winterhawks make it three straight Western Conference Championships by knocking off the Blazers for a second year in a row? Or, can Brendan Ranford’s Blazers ground the high-flying Hawks and make their return to the WHL Championship series for the first time in 14 years?
Here's a look at the first-round Kal Tire WHL Western Conference Championship series:
KAL TIRE WHL WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Brendan Leipsic 4gp-3g-7a-10pts
Nic Petan 4gp-3g-2a-5pts
Oliver Bjorkstrand 4gp-2g-2a-4pts
Colin Smith 4gp-3g-4a-7pts
JC Lipon 4gp-2g-4a-6pts
Tim Bozon 4gp-1g-4a-5pts
The Portland Winterhawks meet the Kamloops Blazers in the post-season for the second straight year. Sven Baertschi and the Winterhawks edged Austin Madaisky and the Blazers four games to three in a thrilling seven-game series in the second round of the 2012 WHL playoffs.
The Winterhawks are in the Kal Tire WHL Western Conference Championship series for a third consecutive year, and are the two-time defending Western Conference Champions. The Hawks may have endured some hardships in their opening-round win over Everett, but they appear to have found their stride in the second-round sweep of the Chiefs. Offensively, the Winterhawks are now firing on all cylinders, having scored 18 goals in four games versus Spokane. Led by Ty Rattie’s 11 goals, Portland’s top trio of Rattie, Brendan Leipsic and Nic Petan have combined for 21 goals and 49 points in the post-season. They will be a challenge for Kamloops to handle, considering they also combined for seven goals and 18 points in four regular-season games versus the Blazers. If Rattie, Petan and Leipsic don’t do the damage, the Hawks boast the depth to find the back of the net with regularity with 11 players having put up at least eight points through the team’s first 10 games. Defensively, the Hawks gave up just three goals in four games to the Chiefs, and posted a pair of shutouts. Derrick Pouliot has been an offensive force from the blue line while Seth Jones, Troy Rutkowski and Tyler Wotherspoon have each put up two goals and eight points in 10 games. As good as they have been offensively, the Hawks’ defence corps has also helped team kill off 25 of 28 opposition power plays in the post-season. Mac Carruth added four more wins and two shutouts to his resume with their sweep of the Chiefs, and now has more career playoff wins than any other goaltender in WHL history. He posted a solid 2.01 GAA and a .922 save percentage in four games versus Kamloops this season.
The Blazers are making their first trip to the Kal Tire WHL Western Conference Championship series since 1999 when they made it all the way to the WHL Championship series, losing to Calgary. The Blazers needed just four games to eliminate their B.C. Division rival Kelowna in the second round, taking advantage of a Rockets team that was missing several key players. However, it was their strong, relentless play and offensive fortitude more so than Kelowna’s injuries that enabled the Blazers to advance in such short order. Up front, the Blazers scored 18 goals in four games versus a stingy Rockets’ defence. Veteran star Brendan Ranford enjoyed an outstanding series versus Kelowna, putting up four goals and eight points in four games, while JC Lipon continued his torrid playoff scoring pace as well. Those two, along with Colin Smith and Kale Kessy, will need to be at their best to beat a Winterhawks team that held the Blazers to just nine goals in four regular-season meetings. Defensively, the Blazers have been adequate, so far, through the post-season, managing to outscore their opponent on most nights. They will need to improve on their 77.1% penalty killing efficiency to limit Portland’s highly dangerous power play. Cole Cheveldave has managed to make the key saves when called upon during the post-season. Cheveldave allowed 11 goals on 94 shots over three appearances versus the Winterhawks, winning just one of those three games. He will need to be at his best to give the Blazers a better chance to win the series.
#1 – Kamloops @ Portland; Friday, April 19 (7:00pm) Memorial Coliseum
#2 – Kamloops @ Portland; Saturday, April 20 (7:00pm) Memorial Coliseum
#3 – Portland @ Kamloops; Tuesday, April 23 (7:00pm)
#4 – Portland @ Kamloops; Wednesday, April 24 (7:00pm)
#5 – Kamloops @ Portland; Friday, April 26 (7:00pm)** Rose Garden
#6 – Portland @ Kamloops; Sunday, April 28 (6:00pm)**
#7 – Kamloops @ Portland; Tuesday, April 30 (7:00pm)** Rose Garden
DALLAS -- Jaromir Jagr got his 1,000th NHL assist. The Dallas Stars got some revenge.
Jagr became the 12th player in League history to reach 1,000 assists and the Stars avenged a 7-4 home loss to Minnesota four days earlier with a 5-3 victory Friday night that snapped the Wild's seven-game winning streak.
It was a big change from Monday night, when the Stars started sloppily and fell apart down the stretch.
"I thought we were more focused and determined to play a direct game from the beginning," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "They're a real good team, but I just think we played with more grit. We capitalized on our power plays and those were the things that we didn't do in the other game in the third."
Jamie Benn and Ray Whitney each had a goal and an assist for Dallas, which got a 30-save performance by Kari Lehtonen. Tomas Vincour, Erik Cole and Cody Eakin also scored for Dallas, which blew open a 2-2 tie after 40 minutes by scoring three unanswered goals before the Wild's Torrey Mitchell connected with 60 seconds remaining
After Cole scored 62 seconds into the final period to break the 2-2 tie, Jagr earned his historic assist by feeding Whitney, whose pass set up Benn's goal.
"I never thought about any assists and points, I was happy to be able to play here [in the NHL early on]," said Jagr, who joined the NHL with Pittsburgh as an 18-year-old in 1990. "When I came here, I didn't think I'd have a chance to play here. The League was too strong and too tough for me. I kept working hard and I've had so many good players around me, they showed me the way of how to get better. I really was pretty lucky. I always said you have to be lucky with who you play with and I had a chance to play with so many great players."
The Stars struck first when with Dallas on the power play, Whitney blasted a slapper from near the right circle over the blocker of Wild goaltender Matt Hackett at 4:14 of the first period to make it 1-0. Dallas got the man advantage when Minnesota's Mikko Koivu was whistled for hooking the Stars' Vernon Fiddler, an infraction that sent the Dallas center careening into the left goal post. Fiddler headed to the dressing room after playing just two shifts and seeing just 1:21 of ice time with a lower-body injury. He did not return to the ice.
"He has got a charley horse, so he'll be day-to-day," Gulutzan said of Fiddler.
Hackett, who finished with 28 saves, was recalled from Houston of the American Hockey League on Thursday and made his first NHL start of the season. Minnesota decided to leave starter Niklas Backstrom back in the Twin Cities so he could be fresh for Saturday's visit from the Los Angeles Kings. Darcy Kuemper served as Hackett's backup.
"I thought that there was a couple sequences where he made some spectacular saves, first period, second period, late in the period," Wild coach Mike Yeo said of Hackett's performance. "Obviously, you don't want to give up that many goals, but I thought he played a good game and made some big saves for us."
Jamie Benn, who won a faceoff in the right circle with Minnesota's Matt Cullen, was credited with the primary assist. After winning the draw, the puck fluttered over to the high slot and Whitney wasted little time in scoring his sixth goal of the season.
Dallas made it 2-0 at 7:31 when Vincour netted his second of the season by knocking a deflection into an open net. Defenseman Aaron Rome took the initial shot from the left point but his blast was tipped by Dallas rookie Reilly Smith. That deflection landed at the skates of Vincour, who tapped the puck into the wide-open net.
The Wild got one back when Devin Setoguchi scored his 12th of the season 1:12 before the first intermission. Cullen picked off a lazy pass by Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski deep in the Dallas zone, skated behind the Stars' net and flipped a backhand pass to Setoguchi, who fired a short wrister that sailed over Lehtonen's right shoulder.
After one period, the Stars led 2-1 and had outshot the Wild 17-7.
Things were pretty quiet in the second period until Minnesota went on the power play for the first time at 14:44 when Dallas' Brenden Dillon earned a roughing call for pushing Cullen.
Minnesota needed just 32 seconds to capitalize, as Jared Spurgeon tapped in a rebound for his fifth of the season at 15:16 to tie the game. Lehtonen stopped an initial shot by Kyle Brodziak with his pad, but Spurgeon corralled the rebound and flicked a wrist shot off the far post and in.
Hackett came up with several big saves late in the second period to preserve the tie. He denied Benn twice at close range within a two-second span, then stopped a long slapper by Stephane Robidas and capped the sequence by denying Eric Nystrom's short wrister at the far post.
Dallas went ahead to stay 1:02 into the final period when Cole collected his own rebound and fired it past Hackett for his sixth goal of the season. The Stars regained a two-goal edge at 2:10 when Benn scored with Dallas on a 5-on-3 power play after Koivu took his second hooking penalty of the night and Ryan Suter was whistled for crosschecking.
Eakin's short backhander beat Hackett with 7:20 left to provide some insurance.
"Let's be honest here, that was a team that sat here and practiced and got ready for us," said Yeo, whose team beat Phoenix at home on Wednesday while the Stars had three days off. "We knew that we were going to face their best game tonight. For many parts of the game, we were doing a lot of good things and we gave ourselves a chance, but in the end we didn't get ‘er done."
Lehtonen had to leave the ice at the start of the 5-on-3 power play due to an equipment issue with backup Richard Bachman filling in. However, Lehtonen returned to the Dallas net with 15:38 left and finished the game. The 2:32 he spent in the net earned Bachman the win because the eventual game-winner was scored during his appearance.
Things got ugly with 6:37 left when Minnesota's Mike Rupp flipped Smith into the Wild bench, sending Dallas' Antoine Roussel zooming in to retaliate. Once everyone was separated, Smith had earned a minor for roughing, Roussel a 10-minute misconduct while Minnesota's Zenon Konopka earned a double minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct for his role in the fracas in front of the visiting bench.
"That's exactly how I saw that [Rupp dumping Smith into their bench]," Gulutzan said. "I'm not sure if you get penalties for airplane rides [like Smith did] but what I loved was the reaction. I saw [Antoine] Roussel go in and I saw [Trevor] Daley go in and I saw Jaromir Jagr go in. That's what we need, we have to play together and I like that."
Another great game for Seattle tonight with a win in OT and I'll be back for game 4 tonight.
Seattle certainly has been raising a few eye brows considering they were/are the massive underdog.Just a great series between both these clubs.
Will try to post a more condensed list of scores throughout the league in a bit. whl.ca/ Read more...
Instead of making multiple threads,figured I'd just sort of lump them together. Some great games lastnight with a few surprising upsets throughout the league.
SILVERTIPS STUN HAWKS IN SERIES OPENER – Kohl Bauml scored two goals and Austin Lotz turned in a 55-save performance as the visiting Everett Silvertips edged the Portland Winterhawks 4-3 in Game 1 of their Kal Tire WHL Western Conference quarter final series in WHL playoff action on Friday night.
Cole MacDonald and Josh Winquist also scored for the Silvertips, who were outshot 58-31 by the Winterhawks in the contest but come away with the series-opening victory.
Chase De Leo, Nic Petan – with a goal and an assist – and Ty Rattie scored for the Winterhawks, who trailed 2-1 heading into the third period as they drop the Game 1 decision. Mac Carruth turned aside 27 of 31 shots in a losing cause.
Everett leads best-of-seven series 1-0
THUNDERBIRDS 5, ROCKETS 4 O/T
Luke Lockhart got his second goal of the game with 51 seconds to play in the first overtime period to lead the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds to a 5-4 victory over the Kelowna Rockets in Game 1 of their Kal Tire WHL Western Conference quarter final series on Friday.
Roberts Lipsbergs and Jesse Forsberg each tallied a goal and two assists while Riley Sheen added a goal and an assist for the Thunderbirds, who got the tying goal from Lockhart 13:30 into the third period en route to their series-opening win. Brandon Glover made 35 saves to claim the victory.
Damon Severson and Myles Bell each notched a goal and a pair of assists while Dylen McKinlay and Tyson Baillie also scored for the Rockets, who went 1-for-5 on the power play as they drop just their sixth decision at home all season. Jordon Cooke made 45 saves in the defeat.
Seattle leads best-of-seven series 1-0
BLAZERS 3, ROYALS 2
JC Lipon broke a 2-2 tie with his second goal of the game 4:37 into the third period as the Kamloops Blazers edged the visiting Victoria Royals 3-2 on Friday.
Kale Kessy also scored while Brendan Ranford and Joel Edmundson each picked up two assists for the Blazers, who converted two of six power play chances as they take the series opener. Cole Cheveldave turned aside 22 of 24 shots he faced to backstop the Blazers to the win.
Steven Hodges scored both goals for the Royals, who were outshot 36-24 by the host Blazers in the opening game. Patrik Polivka turned in a 33-save effort for the Royals, absorbing the loss.
Kamloops leads best-of-seven series 1-0
CHIEFS 4, AMERICANS 1
Mitch Holmberg netted two goals to pace the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-1 victory over the visiting Tri-City Americans in Game 1 of their Kal Tire WHL Western Conference quarter final series on Friday night.
Alessio Bertaggia – with a goal and a helper – and Blake Gal also counted while Reid Gow picked up a pair of assists for the Chiefs, who staked out a 3-1 lead after the opening period and never looked back as they claim the opening game of the series. Eric Williams made 26 saves to post his eighth career playoff win.
Rookie Brandon Carlo scored in his playoff debut for the Americans, who were shut out on four power play chances in the contest. Troy Trombley stopped 28 of 32 shots he faced for the Ams in the defeat.
Spokane leads best-of-seven series 1-0
HUSKY WHL EASTERN CONFERENCE
OIL KINGS 9, ICE 0
Stephane Legault enjoyed a night to remember, netting three goals and four assists for a seven-point outing as the Edmonton Oil Kings blasted the visiting Kootenay Ice 9-0 in Game 1 of their Husky WHL Eastern Conference quarter final series on Friday.
Legault’s seven-point playoff outing tied him with Darryl Sydor (Kamloops Blazers), Dale Derkatch (Regina Pats) and Dave Kryskow (Edmonton Oil Kings) for the second-most points scored in a single playoff game.
Trevor Cheek scored twice and set up another and Michael St. Croix notched a goal and two assists while Travis Ewanyk, Cody Corbett and Keegan Lowe also scored for the Oil Kings, who built up a 5-0 lead in the first period on the back of Legault’s hat trick en route to their series-opening victory. Laurent Brossoit turned in a 28-save effort to post his third career playoff shutout.
Mackenzie Skapski and Wyatt Hoflin combined for 30 saves in a losing effort for the Ice, who gave up three power play goals on seven Oil Kings’ chances while failing to convert on five power play chances of their own.
Edmonton leads best-of-seven series 1-0
TIGERS 3, BLADES 0
Cam Lanigan turned in a 32-save performance to record his first career playoff shutout as the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers blanked the Saskatoon Blades 3-0 in Game 2 of their Husky WHL Eastern Conference quarter final series on Friday.
Miles Koules notched a goal and an assist while Trevor Cox and Tyler Lewington also scored for the Tigers, who went 1-for-6 on the man advantage as they take a 2-0 lead over the East Division champions heading back to Medicine Hat for Games 3 and 4.
Andrey Makarov turned in a 40-save performance in a losing cause for the Blades, who now find themselves in an 0-2 hole after having also lost 4-1 to the visiting Tigers on Wednesday night.
Medicine Hat leads best-of-seven series 2-0
HITMEN 3, BRONCOS 1
Chris Dreidger turned in a valiant 39-save performance to backstop the Calgary Hitmen to a 3-1 win over the visiting Swift Current Broncos in Game 2 of their Husky WHL Eastern Conference quarter final series on Friday night.
Victor Rask and Cody Sylvester each netted a goal and an assist and Greg Chase notched his first goal of the series for the Hitmen, who scored twice in the second period and once more in the third en route to their second straight win in the series.
Adam Lowry got his second goal in as many nights for the Broncos, who outshot the hosts 40-23 in the contest but come away with their second straight defeat in Calgary. Eetu Laurikainen made 20 saves in the setback.
Calgary leads best-of-seven series 2-0
REBELS 3, RAIDERS 0
Patrik Bartosak turned in a 31-save effort to claim a shutout in his first WHL playoff appearance as the Red Deer Rebels downed the visiting Prince Albert Raiders 3-0 in Game 1 of their Husky WHL Eastern Conference quarter final series on Friday.
Rhyse Dieno scored and set up another while Brooks Maxwell and Cody Thiel also counted for the Rebels, who were blanked on five power play chances while shutting out the Raiders on seven man advantage chances as they take the series opener.
Luke Siemens stopped 27 of 30 shots he faced while absorbing the loss for the Raiders, who trailed 2-0 after the opening frame and 3-0 after two periods of play en route to the Game 1 defeat.