Quebec City Don't judge Quebec too harshly for building an NHL-caliber arena and wishing for one of the current franchises to fail. Back in 1995, its beloved Nordiques were being coveted by every town in need of a team.
This team was in a small market, but, man, was it stacked with talent. After bumbling its way through much of the 1980s and early 1990s, the Nordiques capitalized on their futility by drafting top-line players including Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin and Owen Nolan. In 1991, it had the great fortune of landing the No. 1 overall pick just in time to pick up highly touted junior hockey star Eric Lindros. The only problem with selecting the player widely considered to be a brawnier Wayne Gretzky was that Lindros made it clear he had no intention of playing in Quebec City on such a horrible team. The Nordiques saw an opportunity and, in 1992, traded Lindros to the Philadelphia Flyers for Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, several other players, two first-round draft picks and "future considerations." The Nordiques used one of the picks on goaltender Jocelyn Thibault and traded some of the spare-parts players for another first-round pick that turned into forward Adam Deadmarsh. That team was set for a deep run to the Stanley Cup Finals, but not in Quebec. Cash-strapped and strained by a then-weak Canadian dollar, the Nordiques were sold to a group in Denver in 1995 and renamed the Colorado Avalanche. That franchise would trade Thibault for Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy, win a Stanley Cup during its first season in the league and add another to the trophy case in 2001. Forsberg turned into a franchise player, Ricci and Deadmarsh were both cornerstones and Roy is the Avalanche's head coach. Did it have to happen? Unfortunately, yes. Given the economic conditions at the time, just about every Canadian team was struggling and several were in serious jeopardy. The Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and even the revived Ottawa Senators all felt the strain, while Winnipeg buckled and lost its franchise to Phoenix in 1996. While Canada and Winnipeg eventually recovered nicely, Quebec has started pressing for the return of its beloved Nordiques -- and doesn't seem too particular about how they get there.