Rabid Habs

Is It Time To Hate The Quebec Nordiques Again?

Joe Sakic Credit: TSN

Quebecor has officially submitted an expansion bid for an NHL franchise in Quebec City. The massive media conglomerate – owner of Videotron, TVA, Sun Media and much more – confirmed via Twitter that they’ve submitted their candidacy for the NHL expansion process in order to “bring the #Nordiques back to #Quebec City.”

This also confirms that, should Quebecor be successful in bringing an NHL club back to Canada’s second-oldest city, they fully intend on naming them the Nordiques.

It was expected, but I’m glad it’s been confirmed.

Ensuring that the Quebec City NHL franchise is once again named the Nordiques is an important step in the Montreal Canadiens regaining their Most Bitter Rival.

There are the Bruins. There are the Leafs. But in terms of pure, everyone-from-fan-to-player-being-out-for-blood hate, neither quite measures up to the bitterness between the Canadiens and the Nordiques of the 1980s.

There will be myriad words written about the Montreal v. Quebec rivalry the moment Quebec City’s return to the NHL is made official. Until then, we keep that beast leashed.

In the mean time, Habs fan have to start the process in order to properly hate the ‘Diques and their fans once more. This might prove more difficult than you expect. For one thing, many former Nordiques fans walk among us now, supporting our very own Bleu, Blanc et Rouge with the same vigor and passion as the rest of us.

Their people lingered with the Avalanche during the heyday of Patrick Roy. Many boldly claimed that Colorado’s 1996 Stanley Cup would have been theirs, had the team simply held off moving for a year. Fools. The Canadiens would have never traded St. Patrick to Quebec City, and without him the Nordiques/Avalanche weren’t winning the Stanley Cup with Jocelyn Thibault. But I digress.

Over time they began to join us. At first it was “just for something to do,” but eventually they couldn’t help themselves. The allure of true franchise greatness, the likes of which they’d never felt before, drew them in. They joined us. Became us. Are still among us.

At some point it’s this very proximity to the enemy that will undoubtedly reignite the powder keg once more. We have to be prepared for when it does. The fuse isn’t even lit yet, but just the idea of lighting the fuse tells us it is time to prepare.

After all, it’s not safe to dive back into a rivalry this ugly if you haven’t been properly acclimatized.

That’s why we’re going to have to work through this in stages. For many of us, where once our hearts contained black-biled disdain for the Nordiques, we’ve now developed a soft spot. We couldn’t help it. As the years went on and the hatred became a distant memory, a feeling of sympathy began to seep in.

How could we not feel for them? Their team was wrongly ripped away just as they won their historic fourth division championship in team history. One wonders if Quebecor will put those banners up in the new arena? Or maybe they’ll just hang the 1977 Avco World Trophy banner. Seems Pierre Dion will have some tough calls to make.

As will those Nordiques fans who have joined our ranks. Many of them are reading these words right now and wondering what their future holds. They have to know they won’t get to support both Montreal and Quebec City, right?

After all these years of supporting the Canadiens, it’s probably going to be difficult to just go back to hating the Habs, especially with the window opening on a chance at a 25th Stanley Cup at this very moment.

As they deal with all these conflicting emotions they are liable to be erratic. Like a divorce, these things are made much more difficult when strong positive feelings are mixed in with strong negative ones. If we’re not prepared, we might be confused as to why our longtime friends are suddenly lashing out at us in what should be their moment of joy.

Now, even though you’re a Habs fan, it’s probably okay to help them in this difficult period. You can even help ease them into their transition back. For instance, you can ask them forward looking questions like: “Do you think all those Nordiques legends like Guy Lafleur, Mats Sundin, Peter Forsberg and Eric Lindros will be on hand for that first game back?”

This will help to remind them that, even though they’re abandoning the richest history in hockey, they’ve got their little team back.

You do have to wonder if they’ll be tempted to stay with us. I too would find it difficult – maybe even impossible – imagining a future where I’m supposed to hate PK Subban or Carey Price. I certainly won’t blame those that stay. But many will leave and we have to be willing to accept that choice, even if we can’t understand it.

And while it’s okay to help make their change comfortable for them, be vigilant. Do not allow your compassion to make room for any warm feelings. We all want the Nordiques back in Quebec. Don’t mistake this basic human empathy for positive feelings towards the team.

They are the enemy. They always have been. Prepare your hate accordingly. 


Follow me on Twitter: @ZachVanasseHear me on The Montreal Bias podcast.