Anyone at the Devils season finale or watching it at home would certainly have noticed a lot of blue shirts in the arena on Sunday April 10th. At a quick glance you might have thought that the Devil’s cross Hudson rival Ranger fans had shown up to heckle the devils on their season finale as if failing to spoil their playoff chances on Saturday wasn’t enough disappointment for the devils.
However this was not the case, the sea of blue shirts at the prudential center were fans of former NHL team the Quebec Nordiques.
Approximately 2100 Nordiques (1600 by bus and another 500 by car) turned out to the rock on Sunday. Many questions were floating around amongst Devil fans in championship plaza like “why are they here?” and “who are they supporting?”. To put it quite simply the Fanatical Quebecois had arrived with an agenda; they want a team. For sixteen years now the Québecois have been without a team in the NHL when the franchise moved to Colorado and became the Avalanche due to financial woes. As you can imagine many fans refused to change loyalty to geographic neighbors and bitter rivals the Montreal Canadiens. Do you see yourself as a future Ranger fan should the Devils ever leave NJ? And so formed the organization known as Nordique Nation; a traveling band of peaceful Quebecois who want to be heard by the NHL.
Whether the NHL heard them or not, one thing is certain; the NJ Devils and their fans heard them. The impact on the crowd at the prudential center was significant. Many laughs and cheers could be heard coming from Devils fans as the Quebecois were alternating their chanting between “Let’s Go Devils!” and “Nordique Nation!” and on occasion “Martin Brodeur!”, despite Brodeur not being on the ice. Every period at 16:10 a backwards countdown from ten in french would occur followed by cheering and colorful celebrations that lasted for a minute or so to represent the sixteen years the Quebecois have gone without a team. A French Canadian reporter was seen meandering through the crowd and interviewing various Devil fans on their impression of the traveling fan club. Towards the end of the game in the final five minutes the Nordiques flooded the lower level and began riling up the already standing crowd to maximal decibel capacity. It was unfortunate that a foreign fan base were more enthused than the Devils fans themselves. The crowd left the arena the same way it had entered, full of energy with smiles and thank you’s to the home crowd.
As a side note the Nordique Nation had crashed a NY Islander game back in December with the same luster. The question then pops up; is it a Trojan horse scenario where the fan club is showing up to games of teams who have been known to not boast great attendances or is it a case of attending games of teams who are within proximity to them? In any event it is clear that in the NHL money and politics speak louder than any group of fans can and whether or not Quebec will get a team back is unclear. Do they deserve a team? Undoubtedly.
- This article was submitted by guest writer Thom