The Nordiques were killed by a disease that afflicts many small-market teams - including the Winnipeg Jets who, a week before, narrowly escaped the same fate as the Nordiques when a proposed deal to move them to Minneapolis fell through. In Quebec, said Aubut, "The new realities of the hockey industry, the size of the Quebec City market and the absence of adequate government help sounded the knell of the Nordiques." Their revenues from advertising, TV and ticket sales did not cover skyrocketing payroll costs. And, tired of Aubut's near-constant complaints, Quebec fans had steeled themselves for the inevitable. They failed to fill the 15,399-seat Colisée for some playoff games against the New York Rangers, and only 300 fans turned out for a save-the-Nordiques rally. As well, Aubut, a federalist, was at odds with the separatist provincial and civic leaders. When asked if the province would make a last-ditch effort to save the team, Parizeau replied: "I have more important things to deal with than Mr. Aubut's every little twitch."
The NHL's governors will have to approve the sale and settle on a transfer fee to be paid to the league - possibly as high as $14 million. Even if that fee comes off the sale price, the vendors will make a handsome profit: they bought the team in 1988 for about $15 million. COMSAT, meanwhile, can be equally pleased with its end of the bargain. The company, which already owns a National Basketball Association franchise in Denver, plans to have both teams playing out of the city's McNichols Sports Arena until the new $130-million Pepsi Center is completed prior to the 1997-1998 season. The Rocky Mountain city is getting not an expansion franchise but one of the league's most talented teams. "We're bringing winners into Denver," enthused COMSAT president Charlie Lyons. Quebec's loss, Colorado's gain.
Maclean's June 5, 1995
Author JAMES DEACON
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...