Nordiques Nation was founded in Aug. 2010 on the suggestion of two Quebec City radio hosts. A new arena was reportedly in the works to bring an NHL team back to the city; it was time to mobilize and bring international attention to the fans' rabid enthusiasm for another franchise.
Their first trip was Nassau Coliseum in Dec. 2010: 1,100 members invaded the home of the New York Islanders for a game against the Atlanta Thrashers — one team with a cloudy future and another team that relocated the following year. Later in the season, they attended a New Jersey Devils home game against the Boston Bruins: 1,600 fans on 32 buses.
In between, they made an appearance at a Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens game on Hockey Day in Canada 2011, but with little national attention. On Saturday, Hockey Day in Canada 2012, they're invading Scotiabank Place as the Ottawa Senators host the Edmonton Oilers; and they're already getting attention.
Twenty-two busloads — plus others making the five-hour trek by car — will fill the 300 level in their Nordiques' colours just to make sure the whole country knows how much Quebec City wants the league to make a return.
"We have a lot of fun with this," said Eric Grenier, an organizer from Nordiques Nation. "The principal goal (is to show people they want the NHL back."
The greatest thing about these protests — besides seeing the gorgeous blue hues of the Nords jerseys dotting a crowd again — is that they're not really protests at all.
They're more like demonstrations of rabid fandom — a traveling pep rally. For that Islanders game, they'd count down 10 seconds in French until the 15 minute mark of each period, to commemorate the team's relocation 15 years earlier.
And who can forget their Times Square pep rally?
Conditions have certainly changed for Quebec fans in the last year. Winnipeg was handed the Thrashers; the Coyotes are still in limbo; and Quebec City has become the most likely location for relocation.
Today's demonstration on Hockey Day In Canada will only further nudge that momentum, as will trips to Boston and Detroit later this season.
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