Tag: Marcel Aubut

Eric Lindros

20 years ago, Eric Lindros got booed out of Quebec City


20 years ago, Eric Lindros had to face his harshest critics. No, not fans in Philadelphia or New York City but the rabid collective in Quebec City.

It was on October 13, 1992 that Lindros and the Flyers faced off with the team they swung one of the biggest trades in NHL history with in the Quebec Nordiques.

At the time, Lindros was the biggest rookie sensation the NHL had seen since Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. If you weren’t around then, think of how crazed the league was when Sidney Crosby arrived and you have an idea how huge Lindros was.

Problem was, he didn’t want to play for the Nordiques and forced a trade out of town. After Nordiques owner Marcel Aubut got confused about who he was trading Lindros to (he had deals done with both the Rangers and Flyers) it was Philly where he ended up.

Philly traded Peter Forsberg, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, a 1993 first-round pick that became Jocelyn Thibault, $15 million, and future considerations (Chris Simon and a 1994 first-round pick) for Lindros — a blockbuster deal that would stun the league.

After all that drama, it was on this night 20 years ago that Lindros had to face the music in Quebec City at the Colisée as he was serenaded with boos and taunted for “crying his way out of town” with oversized pacifiers and all.

Nordiques fans got the last laugh that night as the home team won 6-3 but not before seeing Lindros score two goals in defeat.

Former Nordiques owner says NHL is returning to Quebec City soon

Quebec Nordiques fans

We’ve already seen the Winnipeg Jets rise from the grave this summer and if things go according to how former Quebec Nordiques owner Marcel Aubut sees it, we’ll be seeing the fleur-de-lis around the NHL sooner than later.

Aubut, the man responsible for selling the Nordiques to be moved from Quebec City to Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche, is more than fired up that a new $400 million arena is soon to begin construction in Quebec City. With its construction set to be completed in 2015 the hopes that the NHL will return are higher than ever.

With all of these matters swirling about, Aubut tells Sun Media that he feels confident that the NHL will come back to Quebec City and will even do so sooner than later.

Aubut says his hometown could have had a team sooner had a new arena been ready by this year, but the $400-million facility won’t be completed until 2015.

That means an NHL team that relocates in 2013 would have to play its first two seasons in the Pepsi Colisee, a 61-year-old facility that’s not up to NHL standards.

“If we had (built) earlier, we would have had a team today, not Winnipeg,” he said of the Atlanta Thrashers’ move to Manitoba in May.

“I know that (NHL commissioner Gary) Bettman would have chosen Quebec City way before Winnipeg. I remember when the Nordiques left, he said ‘we just lost a big asset, with the cultural aspect that Quebec represents.’ This was an American talking!”

All right so there’s a lot of excitement here for Aubut since he’s been seen as one of the bad guys for letting the Nordiques get away. Considering that the lack of a new arena was one of the reasons the team left Quebec in the first place, it’s easy to see why a new arena being built would get him fired up.

What makes his excitement palpable is the financial state some teams are in as well as their inability to get a new arena deal done and making life hard for them to make money. The Coyotes, Blue Jackets, Devils, Islanders, Blues, and Stars are all dealing with either ownership problems or financial woes that helping to disrupt operations of their teams.

Obviously the Coyotes and their lack of an owner and an abundance of financial problems put them squarely in focus as a potential relocation candidate. While it would’ve made for dramatic coincidence to see the Coyotes move back to Winnipeg, if Quebec is serious and has someone willing to pony up the money to purchase the team, Quebecor Media’s Karl Peladeau for instance, they could get their shot to do that next year.

The Islanders could certainly be a candidate as well, but that would require there to be zero progress made on getting an arena somewhere on Long Island, Queens or Brooklyn for them to play in. If nothing happens by the time the Isles lease runs out at Nassau Coliseum, the new Quebec arena would be an easy target for Charles Wang to head for if he felt the need.

While Aubut won’t be the guy that plunks down the cash to make that dream possibly happen, he’s the figurehead here playing the part of head cheerleader for the city to bring the NHL back. If the NHL gets to resurrect the Nordiques through the misfortunes of another team, while it would sting for the United States to have another franchise moved, it could prove to be a huge financial boost for the league.