Bird's Eye View: It doesn't look good for the Nordiques
Published Monday, October 4, 2010 6:54PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 2:45AM EDT
Sometimes, you have to eat your liver before you can have ice cream, and so it must have seemed for hockey fans in Quebec City this weekend.
In an arena where the Montreal Canadiens were reviled for 16 seasons, a capacity crowd held its nose and cheered for the hated Habs Saturday in a demonstration of enthusiasm that they hope will help herald the return of the NHL15-plus years after the departure of the Nordiques.
For anyone who remembers the intensity of the rivalry, fans clad in Nordiques bleu celebrating the Canadiens pre-season win over the Islanders made for a bizarre spectacle, but it's also a measure of the passion that exists for bringing hockey at its highest level back to the Quebec capital.
Unfortunately for the fans, political and private sector will doesn't match public enthusiasm. Prime Minister Harper is on record as opposing any federal funding for a new arena required to facilitate expansion or relocation, and would-be franchise owner Pierre Karl Peladeau of Quebecor fame and fortune says he'll foot the bill for the team but not for the arena. I can't blame the guy - Peladeau's apparently down to his last half billion or so, and he doesn't want to risk most of that on anything that's not a sure thing.
As uplifting as it is to see people rally in the streets by the tens of thousands in support of NHL hockey in Quebec, the reality is that the dossier will ultimately be decided behind closed doors by the political and business elite. They won't do anything that's not in their own best interests, politically or financially, and under the existing circumstances, that doesn't bode well for the rebirth of the Nordiques.
Over 60,000 people, mostly dressed in blue, gather on the Plains of Abraham in a gathering called "La Marche Bleue" asking for a comeback of an NHL team in the city and a new arena in Quebec City, Saturday, October 2, 2010. (Jacques Boissinot / THE CANADIAN PRESS)