The Colorado Avalanche are discussing honoring their Quebec Nordiques’ history during the 25th anniversary season. Should they?
The Colorado Avalanche will turn 25 next year. July 1, 2020 will mark the 25th anniversary of the announcement.
Naturally, we know the Avalanche weren’t an expansion team. Rather, COMSAT Entertainment Group bought them and moved them from Quebec. The 25-year anniversary marks when they came to Colorado.
The franchise was founded in 1972. They played in the World Hockey League from 1972-79. From 1979-95, they played in the NHL as the Quebec Nordiques.
A lot of Avalanche fans make a connection to that team. I even ran a poll about it once:
I’m not one of those fans. I was a hockey fan before the team moved here, but I liked the Penguins. When the Quebec franchise became the Colorado hockey team, I was an instant fan of that team, the Avalanche.
That’s ok, though. I respect fans who love the history of the team, even in the prior years when the franchise was in Quebec.
Well, as you can imagine, the Avalanche are bound to have many special events related to their 25th anniversary in Colorado. For the 20th anniversary, they had the original Stanley Cup team from 1996 come for a special pregame presentation. They also had a Stadium Series game.
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We had a Stadium Series game this year — and it didn’t run smoothly — so I doubt we’ll get something like that again. That season will mark the 20th anniversary of the 2000-2001 team that won the second Stanley Cup, so maybe the team will do something related to that.
They may also honor the team that was before, the Quebec Nordiques.
As I said, this fanbase is more connected to the Team Before than other fanbases of franchises that moved. For instance, Devils fans don’t have any special affinity for the Colorado Rockies, the NHL team that was here from 1976-82. Maybe Avs fans’ affinity is related to Joe Sakic, our superstar in the day who came over with the franchise.
In any case, according to Declan Bolger, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, the team has always discussed playing a game in the old Nordiques jerseys. He said of the discussions:
"“We’ve talked about it, but the opportunity has not arose up to now. Next year is the team’s 25th anniversary season. I think there is an opportunity.”"
He added that they’ve discussed other ideas as well to commemorate the anniversary.
Going back to fanbases and their allegiances to the past, there is one fanbase that’s different — the Carolina Hurricanes’. In 1997, the franchise went to Carolina from Hartford, where it had played as the Whalers for 18 years. Last season, the Hurricanes played two games in the old Whalers jerseys, and the fans were wild about it.
Bolger thinks there could be a similar reaction among Avs fans, and I think he’s right.
"“Up to now, we have not had a uniform that has incorporated the Nordiques, but it is clear other clubs like Carolina have recently leaned into their past.”"
What’s more, the Colorado Avalanche have been back up in Quebec to play a couple exhibition games — and, again, the response was fantastic. I think old Nordiques fans’ allegiances came over with the franchise — it’s doubtful they turned to the fellow Quebecois team, Montreal, because the two teams were always rivals.
So, some incorporation of that history into the 25th anniversary celebration is likely to be popular not only with the Avs fanbase but also fans of the old Nordiques.
What would you like to see the team do? Would you like to see them play a game in the old jersey directly? I’d like to see them get more creative. I think it would be cool to incorporate both teams, maybe the Nordiques logo in the Colorado Avalanche’s colors.