When the NHL announced earlier this year that they would be exploring expansion and welcoming bids, it was expected that four or five cities would apply for an expansion team. However, only two cities followed through with Las Vegas and Quebec City being the two. Vegas is the unproven market with a higher ceiling and the advantage that the NHL can be the first major professional sports league to have a team in Sin City. Quebec City is the area with the obvious appetite for hockey, with history and a brand new arena on its side.
It's obvious the NHL wants a team in Vegas for the reasons stated above and the fact that they need more teams out west to balance out the league. While the NHL would get some success from a team in Quebec, the low Canadian dollar is an obstacle for a possible Quebec franchise. Also keep in mind, that while Quebec would be a safe option, there's not much room for a Quebec fanbase to grow. While they may get some fans in the Maritimes, the Montreal Canadiens occupy a lot of the fanbase of eastern Canada, with a whole generation having grown up with the Habs, so growth for a Quebec City market is tough.
There is obviously going to be the immediate nostalgia factor that will kick in. Many will suggest it'd be absurd to have any name other than Nordiques should a franchise come to Quebec City, but we're going to give it a shot. The prospective owners of a new Quebec franchise (Quebecor) have said the name will be Les Nordiques, but here we're going to give them some other suggestions, should they change their mind and explore other possibilities.
Maybe a new team in La Belle Province means a new identity and to build a brand that will be associated with winning, unlike the Nordiques name that soon became associated with playoff shortcomings and painfully for the fans of Quebec, winning the Stanley Cup right after their move to Denver.
With the NHL's goal to expand and Quebec having submitted a strong claim however, it seems likely the province will get a second team. If/when they do, here are 15 possible names to go with.
15 Aces (Les As)
I know what you're thinking; doesn't this name belong on a list of possible Las Vegas team names? While it might sound like a more ideal name for a team in Sin City, there was once a team in Quebec called the Aces. Back when the province had the Quebec Senior Hockey League, then the Quebec Hockey League, the Aces were two-time champions in the QHL. When the NHL expanded, the Aces joined the AHL to become the affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. The team would move to Richmond, Virgina in 1971 after a 43-year run in Quebec's capital.
Not only would this name pay tribute to the landmark Citadelle de Quebec, but it would also pay homage to another former team in the region. The Citadelles were a former AHL team. Their affiliation? The Montreal Canadiens. That's right, the city which was once Montreal's most hated rival, housed their prospects between 1999 and 2002 before the team was moved to become the Hamilton Bulldogs (now the St. John's IceCaps). It'd be great for a team with the same name to go against the Habs this time around.
This is a name yet to be used in any professional sports league in North America. The lynx would make for a cool logo and the animal is seen across Quebec in forests. It also can be said the same way in both French and English, which will make it easier for those outside Quebec to pronounce the name. At least native Quebecers wouldn't have to hear their team name get butchered.
Had the Nordiques stayed in Quebec back in 1996, the team would have used a new logo with new colors. It was planned to ditch the powder blue, red and white pattern for a Siberian husky over the word Nordiques. We don't know how fans would have taken the logo change, but how about building where the team left off and just go with the Huskies name? The aforementioned logo actually looked cool. Perhaps some fleur de lys could be added somewhere in it, but it could make for a cool look.
The Nordiques weren't the first Quebec City team in the NHL. That honor went to the Quebec Bulldogs back in 1919. That team was founded back in 1878 and they would officially go by the name of the Quebec Hockey Club and later the Quebec Athletic Club in the NHL. Unlike the Nordiques, the Bulldogs actually won the Stanley Cup on two occasions, in 1912 and 1913. If Quebec City wants to revive an old team, how about the one that won some Cups?
This is one name that could actually be a great alternative to the Nordiques name. Voyageurs translates to "travelers" and the word came from travelers who would transport furs and other trade-able materials over long distances. They were among the hardest workers in Quebec history, doing this service to gain passage into the New World. That'd be a great identity for a hockey team, known as a game for hard workers who are in search of a grand prize.
9 Beavers (Castors)
Here we come to another old Quebec team that was based in the Canadian-American Hockey League from 1926-1935. It's a little curious as to why no professional hockey team in Canada has embraced the beaver as a symbol. The beavers are hard working animals, constantly building strong dams. It's a Canadian symbol and some team should embrace the animal. By the way, are those old Quebec Beaver jerseys not amazing? Would that not work as a retro third jersey?
8 Acadians (Acadiens)
While the history between Quebec and Acadians wasn't always rosy, there are a lot of Acadian descendants in Quebec today. The colony of Acadia is located in the Maritime provinces, which would allow Quebec to expand their range a little. There's also an iconic hockey figure who happened to be Acadian and that is the late great Jean Beliveau. Would a team in Quebec dare go for ties to Montreal? Would they dare incorporate an altered bleu, blanc et rouge color scheme?
7 Snowy Owls (Harfangs)
It's sort of an unwritten rule in sports that you have to include a state or provincial bird when it comes to possible names for a team. Snowy Owls may not sound intimidating, but they sure are smart, elegant looking creatures. The owl is an animal you don't see used often in sports. The animal could make for a cool logo on a jersey and Quebec could keep the same color scheme of the Nordiques by putting the bird on a light blue jersey. The only time the name was used for a Quebec hockey team was for the Beauport Harfangs, a now defunct Quebec Major Junior team.
While there already exists a junior hockey team by the same name, why not make the name completely synonymous with Quebec? St. Louis used to have two Cardinals teams, right? The name here comes from the lines of defense in Quebec, the forts if you will. Sure, the QMJHL's Remparts now already play in the newly built Videotron Centre, but there could be a way to differentiate between this existing junior team and an incoming professional team.
The imposing caribou with their big antlers could make for a cool look for an NHL jersey. No team in the NHL has taken on the image of a deer in any form and Quebec can pounce on the opportunity. The George River caribou herd in Quebec was once one of the largest in North America, between 800,000 - 900,000 animals. During mating season, the males compete with each other using their antlers. The males with the largest antlers end up doing most of the mating. Does that not sound like a hockey game to you? If the Quebec team wants to build their identity as a big, bruising team, this name would be perfect.
4 Rouge et Or
Working off the same idea as the Remparts, we're borrowing from an existing team in Quebec City. That would be the Univesite de Laval Rouge et Or, who have dominated university football in their province for most of the 21st century and even the rest of Canada. They draw really well in the provincial capital. The red and gold color scheme may make people think of the Senators, but this could provide for another immediate rivalry for a Quebec team, with Ottawa.
3 Rebels (Rebelles)
Now we delve into some of the juicier history of Quebec. The rebellion of Lower Canada in the 1830s saw Quebec rebels resist the British colonial power governing the province. Quebec was referred to as Lower Canada, while rebels in Upper Canada (Ontario) put up similar resistance out west. While we see the rebel name often used in college sports, we have yet to see it hit any of the major pro sports leagues in North America.
2 Patriots (Patriotes)
While being rebels will always sound cool, Quebecers actually refer to the rebels in that war as the Patriotes and the war as the Patriots' War. Shortly after the war, Upper and Lower Canada were united into the Province of Canada. Confederation would come in 1867, but still, these wars shaped Canadian history. The Patriots name sure has serves New England well, so maybe Quebec can squeeze success out of the name too.
As great as some of the other names would be (or terrible, you tell me) there is only one name that Quebecers would fully embrace and that's the Nordiques. They were originally called the Nordiques because they were one of the northernmost professional sports teams in North America. This is the name that Quebec fans have in their hearts and ultimately, this would be the name they would go with if the NHL return's to Quebec's capital. Still, wasn't it fun to explore some other possibilities?