Tag Archives: Quebec Nordiques

Rocket And Nordiques On View

Very interesting documentary titled “Just Another Job”, showing the WHA’s Quebec Nordiques leading up to and during their first-ever game of the 1972-73 campaign, which was also the league’s first season of play.

Maurice Richard is coaching (he would last just two games before stepping down) and J.C. Tremblay is on defence, so sit back and enjoy this 27 minute feature.

Take That, Mats

My first wife and I and our two kids were in Russia in September of 1991, the same time the Canada Cup was being played back home. It was my first of six trips to Russia, and of course, because it was the first, it was the most magical.

We watched several Canada Cup games in our friends’ Leningrad home that fall, and it was simply a wonderful and fascinating experience. Not a lot of North Americans had seen the inside of Russian apartments at that time, it was at the beginning of the Soviet Union’s ultimate collapse, and here we were, in a home filled with Russian friends young and old, with plenty of laughter, food and drink, and with them and us wondering what each other was saying as we toasted each other or when a goal was scored on the little TV.

But this isn’t about Russia.

On our way to Leningrad we had made our way through Sweden and Finland, and I’d bought the comic book below while in Stockholm. It mentions the Canada Cup on the cover, but on the inside pages there seems to be nothing about the tournament, unless you count the Mats Sundin photo.

Mats, who had just completed his rookie season in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques, was playing for his native Sweden in the 1991 Canada Cup, and was quoted in the local paper, with a huge headline, as how he and his Tre Kronor pals would have absolutely no problem with Team Canada. (I know because I asked the lady at the hotel desk to translate).

But they did have a problem. Canada kicked Mats’ Swedish team’s ass twice – 4-1 in round-robin, and 4-0 in the semi-finals, before taking out the Americans in two game straight to hoist gold.

Take that, Mats. Don’t poke the bear.





Fab Habs Lads Edge Avs

Canadiens beat the Avs 3-2 again for the second time in two nights, only this time in regulation. But more about that below the photo. (It also happens to be three straight wins in preseason by the bleu, blanc et rouge, all by the score of 3-2)

The photo below is from last April when we were in Quebec to paint the town red. Well, not exactly paint the town red. Partied quite a bit, though. Well not exactly partied. Walked around a lot and went to a restaurant.

The historic district of Quebec City is sensational, and a handful of miles away is Le Colisee, The House That Beliveau Built, with the new barn being built next door.

Le Colisee holds 15,399 folks, and on this night when the Canadiens and Avalanche did battle, the attendance was………no idea. For some reason, the  Canadiens.com site was blank with no stats. Didn’t anybody want to do it?


Jiri Sekac showed some serious moves, scored a beauty, and is absolutely forcing management to keep him. He had an excellent rookie camp, an excellent main camp, and is now excellent in exhibition games.

Feeling good about Sekac.

Sven Andrighetto, also enjoying a fine preseason, tied things in the second after Colorado had opened the scoring in the first, while in the third, the Avs took the lead once again when Montreal’s Gabriel Dumont was in the sinbin for shooting the puck over the glass.

But soon enough, Sekac, in a magical moment, used his skate to free the puck from goalie Semyon Varlamov and did a cool wraparound to even things at two. And then David Desharnais sent a sweet pass that Brandon Prust had to skate like the wind to catch, and Prust burst in and fooled Varlamov.

Unusual to see Prust behave like a left-handed Guy Lafleur.

The Quebec crowd was pro-Avalanche, cheering for them throughout. The Avs were once the Quebec Nordiques, and all I can say is, when the Expos left Montreal, I could care less about the Washington Nationals.

But there’s always been that built-in rivalry between big city Montreal and the quainter Quebec City, so it’s not really a surprise that Quebec fans cheered against the Canadiens.

Joe Sakic was introduced and given a hardy ovation. Pretty sure that wouldn’t happen with Eric Lindros. (If you’re not aware of the Lindros/Nords situation, give it a Google).

Shots on goal? I don’t know. Like I said, Canadiens.com was blank.

As it was in the first game, only six players played who can be considered regulars or semi-regulars – Tokarski, DD, Prust, Gilbert, Tinordi, and Beaulieu. The rest of the lineup was prospect-packed.

Next up, Washington Capitals at the Bell on Sunday night, probably to lose 3-2.

Old And New Quebec Barns

We’re back from Quebec City where we had such a fine and outstanding time. A trip we’ll remember with great fondness.

Although when we were leaving Quebec it was minus-1 with snow and two hours south in Montreal it was plus-12 and sunny.

Below, the Colisee, scene of many a Jean Beliveau triumph with the Aces and Guy Lafleur with the Remparts, and the annual International Peewee Tournament held each February where 11 and 12-year olds sometimes play in front of more than 10,000 fans.

And of course the intense and often vicious Habs-Nordiques rivalry that existed from 1979 to ’95.

The unfinished building next door is the New Colisee, or Quebecor Arena, or whatever it’s going to be called, being built for a possible NHL team coming back in the near future. This place will hold 18,482 while the Colisee seats 15,176.


Colisee Time

Habs at Le Colisee Pepsi in Quebec City to beat the Hurricanes.

There’s probably still a lot of Quebecers who aren’t crazy about the Habs after those Nordiques years. Or maybe it started when the Canadiens took Jean Beliveau from them.

We need a win and a good showing from the bleu, blanc et rouge tonight to impress these passionate fans in the provincial capital. And impress the rest of us too.


John Kordic Fought To Play


John Kordic, as you know, was a rough and tough enforcer for the Habs in the latter part of the 1980s, and would eventually die at just 27 years old from a drug overdose and a scuffle with nine police at a motel in the Quebec City suburb of L’Ancienne-Lorette.

A violent ending to a man who earned his living by being violent.

We’ve seen issues before with guys whose roles it was to mainly fight, such as Derek Boogaard, and Kordic, like Boogaard, had issues.

My banker was a friend of Kordic’s in Edmonton, from childhood through to adulthood, and he said that although Kordic had a dad who pushed him hard and always expected more, the real problems didn’t begin until Kordic made the NHL. Kordic admitted that it started when the Habs would go on road trips to Los Angeles, where parties and drugs can crop up at the snap of a finger, especially for young, rich, and famous athletes.

So unfortunately, it began with the Habs. My question is, how do Kings players avoid this type of thing?

Ultimately, Kordic became addicted to cocaine, and in the link I provide at the bottom of this page, Kordic revealed that cocaine was in use with some of the Habs back then, and if it’s true, it’s tremendously disturbing.

Kordic wasn’t blessed with an abundance of hockey talent, although he enjoyed a decent junior career, beginning as a defenceman in junior in Portland before switching to forward as the years went by, but the need for fighters, or goons, in the NHL, became his ticket to fame and fortune.

It also became crystal clear that if he wanted to stay gainfully employed in the bigs, he needed to be as strong and as fast as he possibly could, and so the pressure was on. Which meant drugs like cocaine to ease the mind, and steroids to thicken the muscles.

Kordic would come home to Edmonton in the off-season with stretch marks on his neck from steroid-induced rapid muscle growth.

I was told that Kordic drove a Corvette when he came back home to Edmonton, and when he would leave, he simply gave the keys to his buddies and they bombed around the city in the flashy car. Kordic also had no sense of money responsibilities, and would ask to borrow cash from his friends even though he earned so much more than them. “Really John?” they would ask, but that was the way it was.

Kordic won a Stanley Cup with the Habs in 1986, and also toiled for the Leafs, Capitals, and Nordiques during his rocky and violent career. He once told my banker that it was great when he was with Toronto because it meant he, “didn’t have to backcheck, or forecheck, he just had to cash cheques.

In the end, it all got away from him, and a man described as just a truly nice guy and a great friend to many, let it get the best of him.

An excellent and somewhat disturbing 1992 Sports Illustrated story about John Kordic and be seen here Death of a Goon.

Below, Kordic and Torrie Robertson go at it.



England’s Eve

It turns out that Eve Pearce, who wrote a guest post a few weeks back, is British and lives in England. I didn’t know this until recently. I wonder if she (a) likes the Beatles, (b) eats bangers and mash, (c) realizes she drives on the wrong side of the road, (d) has been to a Buckingham Palace garden party, and (e) knows Blue Bayou.

The last story Eve wrote focused on hockey and its European beginnings. Today she talks about hockey in the U.K. and a couple of guys from there who did well in the N.H.L.

Here’s Eve:

Britain, NHL and the Next Generation

Britain isn’t exactly famous for producing top quality Ice Hockey players. Lack of government funding and a meagre climate are both plausible reasons why a distinct ice hockey culture hasn’t flourished within the borders of the UK. Despite a lack of financial infrastructure and a somewhat chequered history, domestic leagues in Britain still exist with the Elite Ice Hockey League leading the way as the highest level of competition in the UK. The league comprises of ten teams, with representatives from all four home nations – surprisingly the only league in any sport to do so. Nevertheless, most players from Britain want a shot at the big time, the NHL. The glitz, glamour and those machismo tendencies make it a very popular spectator sport for Americans and Canadians alike.

45 players from Britain have played in the NHL. The figure may seem surprisingly high for some, but the league dates back to 1917-18 when it was first conceived in Montreal, Canada. Of those 45 players, 19 are English, 19 Scottish, 4 Northern Irish and 3 Welsh. The most coveted players are Steve Thomas and Owen Nolan, who both played over 1,000 games in the NHL. These Britons were important players of the modern era, both finishing their careers in the 21st century. There are, however, no British born players currently participating in NHL, so these two players will be the main focus of this article.

Steve Thomas

Thomas started his NHL career in 1984-85 season after joining the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent from the Markham Waxers where he made a name for himself after scoring 51 goals in the 83-84 season. He proved to be an astute bit of business by the Leafs, as he became a bona-fide goal scorer in the NHL with nine 20-goal seasons to his credit.

Born in Stockport, England, Thomas was actually raised in Markham, Ontario, Canada and so qualified for the Canadian national team. Although he never qualified for the national team, his domestic career was anything but a failure. After scoring 35 goals in the 86-87 season, he helped Toronto reach the 2nd round of the playoffs and then moved to Chicago to take the next step in his career.

Unfortunately, the talented sniper failed to make an impression with the Hawks following an extended period on the sidelines with several injuries. Eventually he did find success in the 1989-90 season where he scored 40 goals for the Hawks whilst also showcasing his speed and quick release of the puck.

This wasn’t his best season in the NHL though. He set a career high goal tally in 93-94 when scoring 42 goals playing for the New York Islanders, where he spent the best years of his career.

As the 90’s came to a close, Thomas was now considered a veteran winger at the age of 35. However, he didn’t lack the energy and adrenaline to survive in this league, enjoying second stints with the Leafs (1998-2001) and Chicago (2001-2002) before joining the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The forward clearly still had enough passion for the game as he steered his team towards the Stanley Cup final. The Ducks eventually lost in seven games to the New Jersey Devils but Thomas was a key contributor throughout.

Thomas finished his career with the Detroit Red wings in 2003-04, having cemented his legacy as one of the greatest NHL players ever to be born in the U.K.

Owen Nolan

Like Steve Thomas, Nolan was also raised in Ontario, Canada but was born in Belfast, Northern Island. Nolan is probably the more famous out of the two, having been chosen as an NHL all-star in 1991–92, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1999–2000, 2001–02 and also playing 16 internationals for Canada.

He was drafted first by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1990-91 NHL season and played with them for over 5 seasons, at which point he was swapped to the San Jose Sharks for Latvian defenceman Sandiz Ozolinsh.

It was in San Jose where Nolan elevated himself to elite status. He was quickly named captain and registered career high figures in 1999-2000, finishing with 85 points and 44 goals in total. One of these goals came with 10 seconds left in a match with first seeded St. Louis Blues. He beat goaltender Roman Turek from just past centre ice and gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead.

In the 2003 trade window, Nolan was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Alyn McCauley and Brad Boyes. However, his success was restricted by bad performances and a series of injuries and so he never quite reached the heights achieved when at the Sharks.

His time with the Leafs was full of contract issues and financial squabbles so in the summer of 2006, he decided to join the Phoenix Coyotes on a one year $1 million contract. He did well at the Coyotes scoring 16 goals with 24 assists.

He never really settled anywhere in his later career. He spent the 2007-08 season with the Calgary flames where he played his 1000th game and hit his 11th career hat trick against his former team, the San Jose Sharks.

On July 6, 2008, the power forward signed a two-year contract worth a speculated $5.5 million with the Minnesota Wild, where he spent the last years of his career.

Can Britain inspire a new generation?

Britain has produced some important NHL players but most of them, as the examples above may testify to, were merely born in Britain – they were not nurtured or influenced by the UK coaching system hence why they legitimately qualify to play for the Canadian national team. Herein lies the problem and one that has more to do with British culture than a lack of effort in private investment.

Throughout the 40’s and 50’s, Ice Hockey was part of a whole host of activities that took place on the ice such as figure skating, ice dance, speed skating etc. Private businesses invested in local ice rinks and crowds were reaching capacity as professional ice hockey in Britain was seemingly thriving. However, by the mid 60’s, these crowds began to dwindle and professional ice hockey in Britain became no longer viable. British ice hockey then became stagnant and entered an ‘amateur’ phase in its history which was to remain for about 20 years.

Despite encountering a relative boom in the 80’s as professional ice hockey was reintroduced in Britain, all those years in the dark highlight a discouraging attitude amongst the public towards ice hockey. An attitude that is no doubt deep-set and rooted in British culture, as a whole.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Throughout the 80’s the number of ‘imports’ was limited paving the way for home grown junior amateurs to develop. Players like Tony Hand, who was the first ever British player to be drafted by an NHL team when he joined the Edmonton Oilers in ‘86, was a product of a Scottish junior development program. The problem is that not enough players reach this level and this is largely to do with the popularity of the sport and perhaps the fact that other sports are so much more important in British culture. Most kids at secondary school start playing the sports that feature in the school curriculum. Football, Rugby, Cricket, Tennis and Golf are all prioritized ahead of ice sports. Marketing and investment are also problems but it is the youth that hold the key to the future and Britain seemingly cannot inspire this new generation. 


“The Hockey News” From 1988

In a box in my closet I found a few old issues of The Hockey News from 1988, and here’s a sampling of things mentioned:

“We’re so used to this against Montreal, but we’re not complaining.” – Quebec Nordique GM Maurice Filion after an apparent tying goal was waved off against Montreal Feb. 29.

Consumer crusader Ralph Nader lobbied NHL president John Ziegler in an attempt to keep ticket prices down. FANS (Fight to Advance the Nation’s Sports), a group headed by Nader, cited the average ticket price for an NHL game at $7.87, which Nader said was “the most difficult to justify of all the major sports.” (Note from me – Originally I thought this had to be a typo, so I dug through old ticket stubs and I see that it was very possible. I have a Habs-Bruins stub at the Forum that was ten bucks. And various other stubs I have from the late 1980s ranged from ten to fourteen and upwards around twenty bucks. So maybe $7.87 isn’t completely farfetched. Just seems too cheap, that’s all).

“When Borje and the other Swedes went to the NHL, took all the crap and didn’t come home in a box,” said Mats Naslund, “we all knew we had a chance to play in the NHL.”

After Steve Yzerman scored his 50th goal – against Sabre goalie Tom Barrasso – he fished the puck out of the net. Then, inexplicably, he tossed it into the crowd on his way back to the Detroit bench. “I just thought someone else might appreciate it (as a keepsake) more than me,” Yzerman said. “I have the memory of it, and I’ll never forget it. I don’t need the puck. But he was destined to get it anyway. Jacques Demers chased down the fan who caught it, and traded him another puck and a stick for it. The coach planned to have the milestone puck mounted.

“Obviously, the fans in Minnesota don’t care about the playoff race.” Boston Bruin GM Harry Sinden, after 9,591 people showed up at the Met Center to watch Montreal and Minnesota play a 2-2 tie March 14.

Joe Sakic took it right down to the wire for a photo finish that not even the Western League stewards could decide. The Swift Current centre scored four goals in his team’s last regular-season game March 19 to tie Moose Jaw’s Theoren Fleury with 160 points. The WHL has no formal tie-breaking procedure and declared Sakic and Fleury co-champions. It’s the first time in WHL history two players have tied for the scoring championship.

Originally drafted by the Sabres in 1980, Randy Cunneyworth explains his failure to stick in Buffalo rather succinctly. “Square pegs don’t fit into round holes.”

“It’s funny,” said Stephane Richer. “In the past few games it seems that everything I shoot is going in or any time I make a pass to my linemate he scores.” Richer scored on four of 10 shots in a 7-6 overtime win at Los Angeles March 5. Among the goals was the game-winner, making it 44 goals in 65 for number 44 as he helped Montreal to a league-high eight consecutive victories.

Springfield Indians (AHL) center Bruce Boudreau had his 20-game point streak snapped by Maine in a 4-2 loss Feb. 28.

Leafs suffer double-digit embarrassment – a humiliating 10-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at Maple Leaf Gardens.

With The New Hartley Rumour……..

With the latest rumour being Bob Hartley coming in to coach the Habs, here’s a look at him in a Quebec televison series getting angry with Patrice Brisebois. A big thanks to Danno for giving us this glimpse, albeit acting, of Hartley, who won a Stanley Cup in Colorado with Patrick Roy as his goalie.

You can read about this TV series, which involves Montreal and Quebec and the rivaly the two teams had until the Nordiques left town, here – La serie Montreal-Quebec. Guy Carbonneau is the coach of the Canadiens in this series.


Into The Drink

Darth sent this picture quite awhile ago but I couldn’t bring myself to put it up. Until now that is. I hope there’s enough lifeboats.

A 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals. What, the Habs didn’t win? Seriously?

Question: Who would you consider the better defenceman – Tomas Kaberle or Bobby Orr?

Isn’t Kaberle fantastic! Except for that time in the first period when he was so mesmerized by a slow-moving puck that he forgot to reach his stick out to clear the little black thing, and presto, into the net it went. And his long shots are the kind goalies prefer in practice. The ones they can see and stop and not get hurt by. But otherwise, him or Orr?

Wait a minute, that’s ridiculous. You can’t compare Kaberle to Orr. Orr was the best ever. I don’t know what I was thinking.

What about Kaberle and Larry Robinson?

I’m re-reading Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, and there’s a passage in there where Kerouac and Neal Cassady are in a bar and a guy named Gomez is wandering around trying to pick up chicks. I don’t know how their Gomez made out, but I sure hope he scored more than our Gomez.

The Canadiens played with blood, sweat and tears. Okay, there was no blood. And so what that it only looked like sweat and tears and their faces were wet because they’d poured water on them. And exciting! Whew! I’m only now just recovering.

Hey, I’ve only got so many decades left and if I die before they become a great team again, I’m going to be pissed.

Rene Bourque notched a shorthanded goal, which was the Canadiens’ first goal against Washington in 260 minutes, or about the length of time it takes Brad Marchand to read a comic book.

Random Notes;

Those shots of Dale Hunter behind the Caps bench gave me a queasy feeling in my gut. The Habs and Quebec Nordiques enjoyed the most vicious rivalry in hockey, and Hunter was front and centre of it all. He was a nasty piece of business. Actually, a dirty, miserable prick.

Sunday, the boys are in Sunrise, Florida to take on the Panthers. Are you excited?