In 1972, the Nordiques started skating in the World Hockey Association (WHA). This important section of the wall in the sporting history of Quebec will be highlighted with great fanfare from September 30 to October 2, in the presence of a few dozen prominent former players from the cursed circuit.
< p>Nordiques members like Marc Tardif, Réal Cloutier, François Lacombe, Serge Bernier, Richard Brodeur, as well as Christian and Paulin Bordeleau have already confirmed their presence, as have some stars from other WHA teams like the legendary Bobby Hull, André Lacroix and Steve Carlson (of the Hanson brothers from the movie Slap Shot).
The announcement of the event was made at Stade Canac, with many jerseys from the rebel circuit in the background.
“Thanks to the WHA, there were the Nordiques and then the merger with the NHL. This league, we have to talk about it.
“It had a great impact in the world of professional hockey with about sixty NHL players who chose to sign with clubs in the league. 'AMH at the beginning of the circuit. The AMH has decompartmentalized hockey,” said Marc Durand, president of the National Capital Sports History Society (SHSCN).
According to Mr. Durand and his acolytes from the organizing committee, Quebec City would be the only city to mark the 50th anniversary of the AMH, which was swallowed up by the merger of four teams with the NHL, in 1979.
“Quebec was a natural choice. It has always been an important city in the WHA. This league was forgotten, but the players stood proud and no one took up the torch anywhere. Perhaps for us, hockey is more important than elsewhere,” said Mr. Durand.
Throughout the weekend, various activities will be organized, including conferences, signatures, an exhibition of artifacts from the Hockey Hall of Fame (including the AVCO Cup), in addition to the grand banquet on Saturday evening at the Château Frontenac, which will be accessible through the purchase of tickets.
< p>A sign that nostalgia will be there, the banquet meal will be the same as the one on the sidelines of the first WHA all-star game presented in Quebec City in January 1973.
For a Sports Hall of Fame
The funds raised will be used for the project that the SHSCN cherishes to set up a Quebec City Sports Hall of Fame.
“It This will be our first major funds for the project. There are talks with the City of Quebec, but nothing definitive for the moment.
“Quebec is one of the few cities in North America where there is no sports hall of fame. We have to find a place to celebrate our athletes,” pleaded Mr. Durand, citing in particular Myriam Bédard, Pierre Harvey, Gaétan Boucher and Patrick Roy.
Over the next few months, other announcements will be made as to the players who will be present for the 50th of the WHA and the Nordiques in Quebec.
Emotional and awaited reunion
It is the former defender François Lacombe who will be honorary president of the festivities surrounding the 50th anniversary of the birth of the AMH. An honor that went to him, as he scored the very first goal in Nordiques history on their first home game against the Alberta Oilers.
“It was against Dave Dryden, Ken's brother,” Lacombe recalled. Let's say that I hadn't carried the puck from one end to the other like Connor McDavid, but my throw was quite a garnotte! “, he added, still tongue-in-cheek. ;
More seriously, for former players like Lacombe, next fall's event represents a golden opportunity to return to Quebec to celebrate memorable moments in their lives.
It's with a palpable emotion that he said he accepted the role offered to him.
“We are all buddies, even separated by distance. The heart is still there,” he said.
“It comes to get you business like that. When you get to 75, you start thinking about how much time you have left. All this will seek emotions and memories. I'm very touched, but if I'm named honorary president, it's just because I scored a goal. There were stars who did a lot for the Nordiques,” he added.
A Necessary League
Even if many at the time looked up at the AMH, the advent of this decried league was necessary, according to Lacombe. About a hundred Quebec players played there over seven seasons.
“We had to discover other players. It was always the guys from the Canadian that we saw. When the AMH was born, people said to themselves: look at how good these guys are too! This league has allowed us to evolve at home,” argued the former defender.
According to him, it will not be necessary to twist many arms to bring about sixty former players Quebec.
“Everyone loved us in Quebec. The city boarded not nearly. People almost followed us on our errands to see what we were going to eat. I'm sure the guys are excited to be back here,” he smiled.
If Lacombe is delighted at the idea of reconnecting with the former Nordiques, on the contrary he says he is pessimistic about the team's return to Quebec one day.
“It's discouraging. I do not see why we are not entitled to a team in Quebec, but you cannot mix the NHL. It's too conservative. I would like that, but I'm afraid it won't happen.”