Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Home ice||Colisée de Québec|
|Based in||Quebec City|
|Colours||Blue, white, red.|
|League||World Hockey Association, National Hockey League|
The Québec Nordiques (translated into English as "Northmen") were a professional ice hockey team based in Quebec City. The franchise was relocated to Denver in 1995 and renamed the Colorado Avalanche.
- Founded: 1972
- Arena: Colisée de Québec
- Uniform colors: Blue, white, red.
- Avco Cup wins: 1 - 1977
- Avco Cup runners-up: 1975
- Division Championships: 1975, 1977, 1986, 1995
The Quebec Nordiques formed part of the World Hockey Association in 1972, coached by the legendary Maurice "Rocket" Richard - but he only lasted one game, a 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Crusaders. The "Rocket" decided coaching wasn't his forte and stepped down.
The Nordiques boasted J. C. Tremblay , who led the WHA is assists that first season, and then in the next season Serge Bernier and Rejean Houle joined the Northmen. In 1974-75, they finally made the playoffs with the help of Marc Tardif . They beat the Phoenix Roadrunners and the Minnesota Fighting Saints to reach the finals, where they were swept in four games by the Gordie Howe-armed Houston Aeros.
The next season saw playoff disappointment as the Nordiques lost to the Calgary Cowboys after losing Marc Tardif to injury. But they finally captured the Avco Cup in 1976-77 as they took out the New England Whalers and the Indianapolis Racers in five games before beating the Winnipeg Jets in game 7 of the Finals to win the championship.
By this time the WHA was on shaky ground. The Nordiques were unable to defend their title and fell in the playoffs to the New England Whalers. The 1978-79 season would be the final one for the WHA and for J. C. Tremblay, who retired at the end of the season and had his number 3 retired before the Nordiques merged into the NHL together with three other WHA teams, the Winnipeg Jets, New England Whalers, and the Edmonton Oilers.
Merger into the NHL
Forced to let all but three players go in a dispersal draft, the Nordiques were now an expansion team and sunk to the bottom. They finished the 1979-80 season in last place. But with the top draft pick, the Nordiques got Peter Stastny in the close season, who put in a Calder Trophy-winning performance with 109 points and led the Nordiques to the playoffs, where they fell in five games to the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Nordiques again made the playoffs in 1981-82, making it to the conference finals where they were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup winners, the New York Islanders, but not before disposing of the vaunted Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins.
The rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens was most visible in the 1984-85 season where both sides battled for the division championship. The Habs won by three points, but the Nordiques would exact revenge in the playoffs with a seven-game victory which was clinched by Peter Stastny's overtime goal. They won their first NHL division title in 1985-86 but were met with a defensive collapse in the playoffs, allowing the Hartford Whalers to advance.
The next season saw more of the Nords-Habs rivalry as the playoff series went to a seven-game battle royale, with the Canadiens finally coming out tops. But this was the end of their relatively successful period as decline began the following season. They finished last in their division and missed the playoffs for the first time in 8 years. In 1988-89 they had the league's worst record, and the arrival of legend Guy Lafleur couldn't help as the Nordiques now had to transition.
Controversy came in the 1991-92 season as their first-round draft pick, Eric Lindros, refused to sign a contract with the Nordiques. It is thought that he was afraid of not being able to adjust to the language differences. The struggles continued as the Nordiques finished last for the 5th season in a row. The Nordiques then traded Lindros to the Philadelphia Flyers for seven players (including Peter Forsberg, Chris Simon , Mike Ricci , and Jocelyn Thibault), a first round draft pick, and cash.
The new players helped inspire the biggest single-season improvement in NHL history. The Nordiques finished second and made the playoffs, but fell to their old nemesis the Montreal Canadiens in the first round. They would miss the playoffs again the next season as they struggled with injuries, but there were off-ice happenings too.
The move to Denver
Marc Crawford was appointed the new head coach for the 1994-95 season, but first there was the problem of a lockout. When the shortened season began, the Nordiques played well to finish top of the Eastern Conference. But on-ice success didn't translate into success in other areas. In financial trouble, the team owner Marcel Aubut asked for a bailout from Quebec's provincial government. The bailout fell through and Aubut was forced to sell the team to a group of investors in Denver.
The franchise was packed up and shipped to Colorado and renamed the Colorado Avalanche. Fans in Quebec still felt the team was theirs though, and cheered the Avalanche to Stanley Cup success in their first season in Denver.
See also: Colorado Avalanche
Players of Note
- Michel Goulet
- Guy Lafleur
Not to be forgotten
- 3 - Jean Claude Tremblay
- 8 - Marc Tardif
- 16 - Michel Goulet
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