Sinful Admiration

By JD Lagrange – On Sunday night, I was watching the end of the game between the Boston Bruins and the Florida Panthers and, like most hockey fans out there, I was shocked by the outcome. But what really got me during those post-game moments, was seeing Patrice Bergeron hugging each and every Bruins’ player coming off the ice. Then, seeing how emotional he got when hugging David Krejci… and then, Brad Marchand.

This whole sequence made me realize how much appreciation and admiration I have for Bergeron. Yes, in spite of him playing for one of the two teams I dislike the most. I guess it is possible to hate a team, but love a player on their roster.

It got me thinking that today, like most Habs’ fan out there, there are two teams that I strongly dislike (not to use the word ‘hate’): the Boston Bruins, of course, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Historically, since I’ve been following the NHL, you can add the Quebec Nordiques to these two. Oh there have been other teams that I disliked over the years, mostly due to short rivalries (like the Ottawa Senators), but it comes nowhere close to Quebec, Boston and Toronto.

Sinful admiration

With that said, there have been players on those teams that I have really liked. I will try to dress a list but don’t worry, you’ll see that it’s rather short.


Bobby Orr: What’s there not to like about the guy? He could do it all on the ice. Offense, defense and he was tough as nail. The best defenseman to ever play the game, in my opinion.

Brad Park: For some reason, I have always liked Park, a defenseman who wore the Bruins’ colours from 1975 to 1983.

Jean Ratelle: I’ve just mentioned Brad Park, but Ratelle was traded with Park and Joe Zanussi to the Boston Bruins for Esposito and Carol Vadnais in November of 1975. I remember him more as a Bruin, with whom he had 450 points in 419 games in Boston.

Raymond Bourque: Again, another class act on and off the ice. If you were to put a picture in the dictionary about the definition of the Norris Trophy, as the best all-round defenseman, he would be it during his time.

Patrice Bergeron: We’ve just talked about him a bit, but he’s another genuine good guy. Great leader, good at both ends of the ice and on faceoffs. Doing the little things right.


Wendel Clark

Wendel Clark: Clark is simply the type of player that I like most: power-forward who will play a physical game, and who can (and will) drop the gloves while contributing offensively as well. They don’t come any grittier than that, while being an excellent hockey player.

Darryl Sittler: The Leafs’ captain was cut in the same cloth as Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic. Class acts, great player, who can forget that afro? He was a 200-foot player who made his teammates better.

Lanny McDonald: A prolific goals’ scorer often better known for his red moustache. I liked him as a Leafs, but also as a Flames when he went to Calgary.

Rick Vaive: My admiration for Vaive dates from before he ever skated in the NHL. He was one of the many former Castors de Sherbrooke, in the QMJHL, whom I grew up watching, alongside Jimmy Mann, Richard Sévigny, Jere Gillis, Ron Carter and Floyd Lahache, amongst many others.


Michel Goulet: I hated him for his timely goals against the Canadiens, but what a good goals’ scorer he was. He wasn’t dirty but played hard, and he was always a threat while on the ice. You just couldn’t hate the guy.

Joe Sakic: Burnaby Joe was putting up 100 points a season on a bottom-feeding Nordiques’ team, well before they became respectable. In the same mold as many of the players in this article, he is a true class act and has been his entire playing career and now, in management.

Owen Nolan: Again, the power-forward who could do it all. It’s unfortunate that he and Sakic had to continue their career in Colorado when the NHL moved the Nordiques’ franchise there in 1995…

There you have it. So it’s a total of 12 players on three teams over a period of about 50 years! Not a high percentage, is it? I didn’t dislike every other players on those teams, far from there, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I liked them either. Who would be on your list? Put them down in the comments below.

Nordiques: Molson Is Not The Issue

By JD Lagrange – Oh that topic again. There are a bunch of former NHL employees who are trying to remain relevant by stirring things up through the media… and it works as people talk about them. How many times have we heard Michel Bergeron saying things that make no sense? Or Stephane Waite pretending to be an expert at something? Or Serge Savard strumming the language drum to put down Marc Bergevin? And the list goes on. While most hockey fans can read right through the self-serving and attention-seeking comments, some people are unfortunately gullible enough to take them for granted.

Recently, it’s been Michel Therrien. In his most recent interview, he seemed to think that he was making an earth-shattering announcement when he claimed that Montreal Canadiens’ President Geoff Molson doesn’t want the return of the Quebec Nordiques. Worse, some media outlets made it “news”. Even worse, some fans took that to the bank as the reason why the NHL is seemingly refusing to return the Nordiques to where they feel it belongs.

Real reasons

Does Molson want the return of the Nordiques in what is currently “his market” and lose out on some revenue? Of course not. Be honest here: would you if you were in his place? But those who think that the Montreal Canadiens’ President is one of the main obstacles to the return of the NHL in Quebec City are looking the wrong way. While he does sit on several boards, including the NHL Board of Governors and the Hockey Hall of Fame, he only has one vote (if it ever came to that, which it hasn’t). If he had that much pull, Molson would have resolved the unfair refereeing against his team, right? *wink*

The real reason why Quebec doesn’t have a team is Gary Bettman. You want someone to blame? Look towards him. But for one of the rare times, I understand why Bettman and the NHL think that way… and so should everyone, even if they disagree. As you know, understanding does not mean supporting or agreeing.

Gary Bettman

Remember that under Bettman, everything is about money and greed, not necessarily what’s for the good of the game. There have been numerous examples of that since 1993, when he was hired as the NHL Commissioner. So if you take that approach, you should understand what I’m saying here.

If the NHL grants a franchise to Quebec City, what does the league gain? A rivalry? They don’t care about that. Remember… think money. By doing so, they take money out of one pocket (Molson’s) and give it to someone else. They don’t gain fans (or very few) or revenues as even TV rights will be divided, losing some for Montreal and gaining it back to Quebec.

Now if they put a team in a US market where there are few hockey fans, just about 100% of the money coming in is “new revenue” for the NHL and its owners. New fans equals new TV rights, higher viewership to sell those rights. Cha-ching! They’ve gained a great hockey market in Nashville, in Las Vegas, in Seattle even. Money that they would have only split had they put a team in Quebec City.

So for the owners, the return of the Nordiques is a lateral move at best. Particularly if you think of generating revenue. It fails drastically when compared to the potential of introducing hockey in a market where it’s not already strong.

Glimmer of hope

Admittedly, I am not “in the know” of the details and discussions behind the NHL’s closed door meetings. But if I look at it from a fiscal point of view, the way Bettman and his greedy acolytes look at things, the hope of seeing the return of the Nordiques is slim to none. But it might be there ever so slightly…

The only way I could see the Nordiques returning would be through relocation under the following conditions:

  1. The NHL’s Board of Governors gets tired of having teams on life support (see Arizona);
  2. The NHL has exhausted the options of several US Cities like Houston (TX), San Antonio (TX), Charlotte (NC), Indianapolis (IN), Baltimore (MD) and even Atlanta (GA), yes again; and,
  3. Gary Bettman quits or gets fired, and the NHL hires someone who makes decisions for the good of the game itself.

So instead of listening to the Therrien’s of this world, you would be better off relying on your own common sense than believing the words of someone trying desperately to remain relevant and wanting to be heard at all costs. It’s okay to be frustrated with the situation. But at least, go bark up the right tree and direct your anger towards the real culprit…

You want to hold your breath for Quebec to get another NHL franchise? Do it, but it will be without me as I’ll be dead before that happens… at least based on the way the NHL under Bettman has been going.

More reading…