Boston Bruins: Claude Julien and Patrice Bergeron Talk Quebec Hockey


Patrice Bergeron has been a member of the Boston Bruins organization for eleven seasons.  While he has made himself part of the Boston community, his home is in Quebec. Recently, the Bruins alternate captain was asked about the possibility of Quebec City receiving a NHL expansion team. Bergeron shared his thoughts and what the general feeling of his fellow Quebecois were on bringing back the Nordiques.

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“It’s exciting. It being my hometown, you can tell the excitement is really there right now. When I’m there in the summer time I have people coming up to me at the grocery store and things like that, and asking me if I have any inside scoop on Quebec getting an expansion franchise,” said Bergeron. “Unfortunately I don’t have any inside information. But they’re hoping and pushing hard to get [a franchise]. I think the fan base and corporate side of it is definitely there for that, and [could] sustain a team. But time will tell if they’re going to get one.

“We’ve really enjoyed going back to Winnipeg with the crowds and the energy that’s in that building since the Jets returned. I’m sure it would be the same kind of thing in Quebec City if the Nordiques could make it back there.”

To Bruins head coach Claude Julien more hockey in Quebec makes sense. Claude Julien once played for the Nordiques. He agreed with Bergeron about seeing the NHL return to Quebec City.

“I don’t think there were too many people happy to see them go in the first place,” commented Julien on the possible return of the Nordiques.  “Quebec City is a great hockey city, and it created some good hockey rivalries with the Montreal Canadiens back in the day. It’s certainly a city that would support its team extremely well. Having been there, there’s no doubt I’d like to see [the NHL] back there.

“It’s a city in my mind that is very deserving of it, so hopefully it works out for them.”

Quebec City and Boston shared that rivalry with the Canadiens and each other. The passion and intensity were there every game. (There was usually a fight every game as well.) With two cities sharing common ground, it stands to reason that QC’s biggest ally would be Boston.

Unfortunately, the biggest hurdle that Quebec City faces right now comes from Boston. That hurdle is Boston Bruins owner (and Chairman of the NHL’s Board of Governor) Jeremy Jacobs.  Jeremy Jacobs doesn’t seem that keen on Quebec hockey. Sure, he acknowledges the history of the city. He also acknowledges tradition and Quebec’s passion for hockey.

Jacobs honestly believes that more hockey in the desert makes sense. He really does.

“What is the best thing for the league as a whole, and what’s the best thing for Boston? Right now the thirty teams are pretty good for all of us, I think. I feel good about where we are today. But as you framed the question there, we’re imbalanced here in that we’ve got 16 teams in the East, 14 in the West,” said Jacobs.  “I would probably have to indicate that another team in the west would make more sense for us. Now looking at the two locations, you have to say that Quebec looks like they are…there’s more history there for hockey.

“But the presentation that was made was very compelling by those people in Las Vegas. So there’s no clear-cut answer there, but that’s sort of giving you some of the conditions in consideration.”

“The people of Quebec are clearly passionate. But take a look at what’s going up in Nevada. That’s a heck of an arena being built there. There is strong interest there. Balance the fact that Quebec has great hockey interest with the fact that it’s an extraordinarily small market. That balances those things too. We don’t want to [fail to succeed in Quebec City] again.”

The biggest point Jacobs makes is that there would be another NHL alignment if Quebec entered the league. One way or the other, a realignment would have to occur.  The Detroit Red Wings would find themselves back in the West(something their fan base would clearly object to), or QC would start out as a ‘Western’ conference team. Even if QC started out in the West, there would eventually be a redrawing of the map to put QC in the same division as Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo, and Boston.

The rest of his argument seems to neglect the recent history of the NHL. Jacobs, in his role as Chairman of the BOG has presided over the boondoggle which is the Arizona Coyotes. Bettman wanted hockey in the desert. Jacobs wanted hockey in the desert. They got their wish, and all it cost the league was over half a billion dollars to make that wish come true.

Now, Bettman and Jacobs are now practically daring lightning to strike twice.

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