So the city of Glendale, Arizona told the Arizona Coyotes it’s ending the lease between it and the city at the Coyotes’ home arena. Here’s a telling line from the city in a tweet on Aug. 19:

“With an increased focus on larger, more impactful events and uses of the city-owned arena, the city of Glendale has chosen to not renew the operating agreement for the Arizona Coyotes beyond the coming 2021-22 season.”

The key words in there I take away? Larger, more impactful events. Essentially, the city of Glendale told the Coyotes that it wants the building to be more full than it is when they play. It doesn’t need to be hammered home but the Coyotes can’t draw flies to a pile of dog doo on the best of days — and that’s in the months and years before the Covid came around — and the city of Glendale knows that. Naturally, the Coyotes didn’t take that lying down and are “… 100 per cent committed to finding a long-term arena solution here in Arizona …”. Right. The Coyotes couldn’t sell out pad No. 3 of a four-plex in Mesa let alone anywhere else.

And so the buzz about relocation perked up again and that means trying to figure out which Canadian city should get the Coyotes. I say Canadian because that’s where any relocated team should go. I’ve read Houston as a natural rival for the Dallas Stars or Kansas City, which would have a natural rival with absolutely no one. I advocated for Hamilton before but that ship has long since sailed because, well, it’s Hamilton. I wouldn’t be opposed to Saskatoon but, like Hamilton, their best chance passed them by long ago.

So where should it go?

Quebec City. Bring back Les Nordiques and fast.

The city has a ready-made arena with a capacity of nearly 19,000 and there will be no worries about selling tickets. Because I’m greedy, I also want to see a Nords-Habs game again, like a lot of people do. If there’s ever a natural rivalry, that’s the one. Vendredi Saint 1984, anyone? Perhaps the most infamous brawl in National Hockey League history, or at least the only one I can recall which carried into two periods.

Let’s not forget that the Nordiques relocated not because of lack of butts in seats but because of the financial situation at the time. A small stadium combined with a crappy exchange rate is what did the Nordiques in. Marcel Aubut, who owned the Nordiques before he sold the team in 1995, never lost money but said he needed a bailout in order to survive the situation. None was forthcoming and he was forced to sell. If this sounds similar to what the first incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets went through, it is. The Jets ended up in Phoenix due to money.

Alas, the Jets have returned after Atlanta proved a second time that it isn’t a hockey town and now it’s time for the Nordiques to reclaim their place. It would be quite the twist as the original Jets would become the new Nordiques should they make the move from Phoenix. Finances shouldn’t be the issue because if it came down to money, the Atlanta Thrashers would have gone somewhere else besides Winnipeg.

The days of Nordiques Nation filling up coach buses and travelling to various cities to take over a couple thousand seats should be gone, though it was thoroughly entertaining to see them hit places like Ottawa and New Jersey to make plenty of noise. You know what would be great to see? Nordiques Nation fill up the buses — and I mean hundreds of them — and head to Florida to take in a Panthers game. Buy up the tickets for a Florida Panthers-Columbus Blue Jackets game, one that’s sure to be the hottest ticket absolutely nowhere, and just have a party. Who cares who wins?

There will be some who will say I’m not making much of a case but I don’t need one. The Coyotes have been an abysmal failure in Arizona. There’s more emotion involved in a cribbage game at an old folks home than there is at a Coyotes home game and I can guarantee you the sentiment of the Coyotes leaving the desert will be the same when the Thrashers left Atlanta: meh.

Allons Nordiques et espérons vous voir bientôt.

James McCarthy

After being a nomad around North America following my semi-debauched post-secondary days, I put down my roots in Yellowknife in 2006. I’ve been keeping this sports seat warm with NNSL for the better...

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  1. Bettman won’t let it happen. As much as I would love to see Quebec with a team if they leave Arizona then it’s Houston bound.

  2. That makes the most sense for that very troubled franchise but we know the NHL and in particular Gary Bettman will not let this happen. The NHLPA should be pushing for it to move to Quebec. Imagine the growth in revenue for the players and the salary cap.

  3. I was a big fan of the Nords, even in the old WHA. Still have my old jersey, pretty beat up wore it to a hockey game in Winnipeg when the Nords came to town, great game ended in a tie. Bittman is nuts, thinking it will make it in another southern city, like Houston who keeps losing teams one after another. How many incarnations with the nickname Aeros, too many and the new Aeros if it comes into being will be in money trouble too when people in Houston get bored of that team too.

  4. Never going to happen. This move would only create a worse alignment issue than Arizona already is. They’re going to Houston, you can guarantee it. Houston has a building, with an owner, that wants another tenant. Texas is quickly turning into a hockey hotbed, thanks to the work the Stars have done, which aren’t happy about potentially losing half the state to another team by the way.

    If they moved to Quebec, which won’t happen, this now forces the league to move a team back West again. Remember when the league went to the 16-14 split pre-Vegas by moving Detroit and Columbus? It’s because both those teams complained for years about never getting to play in-conference away games in their home time zone. Neither team will move back to the West, hence a western team will never be relocated East.

  5. No Brainer..Nordiques are a liscense to print money
    The only reason.that team.was sold in the first place was he was offered a boatload of $$$
    You would sell you’re home to if offered way more then was worth.
    Bettmen the gearbox he is did nothing at all to keep them.in Quebec .
    He was pulling his goalie the moment he heard a Canadian team would go to some non hockey hillbilly market.
    The gut despises anything at all Canada .
    We would easily had a three peat if NHL went to Korea last olympics.
    Does anyone think if USA were the gold medal defending Champs. That the NHL would have bailed ? No chance and no way.
    He hates Canada if I’m.wrong why is their 4 teams in NEW YORK STATE ( DEVILS I KNOW ARE JERSEY ) AND ONLY 1 IN GTA
    BETTMEN GEARBOX is the only one standing in the way ofvNordiques .
    Hey let’s offer him to be the GRAND MARSHALL of the next TORONTO PRIDE FESTIVAL . HED love that

  6. Allez Nordiques! Not “Allons” 😉

    There is also the Eric Lindros story … it hurts the club big time.

    And yes … Alain Côté goal was good.