I love stories like this: tonight the New York Islanders host the vastly improved but still seriously under-loved at home Atlanta Thrashers. As you might imagine, tickets on eBay for this battle not so royale are fetching something less than top dollar (Are there tickets on eBay for this? Is there a Long Island public nuisance ordinance against trafficing Isles’ tickets on line?). The respective fanbases for the teams — to the extent that you can say that Atlanta has a fanbase — will surely opt out of the TV broadcast in favor of attending dull Saturday night Christmas parties. Not must-see TV. Still, the game must be played. And Nassau Mausoleum will host a sizable contingent of intriguing guests tonight:
- 23 busloads of hockey fans from Quebec City, all attired in Nordiques’ bleu.
I used to think a half dozen buses of Flyers’ fans pulling up in front of old Capital Centre, and soon thereafter making the brawling on the ice appear child’s play relative to the fisticuffs those hooligans initiated in the stands, a sizable show of high-pitched passion, to say nothing of malicious mischief. I can’t imagine what 23 busloads of impassioned Quebecois will look and sound like in an otherwise empty Isles’ rink tonight. What a brilliant bit of passion-branding by Nordiques Nation.
Think about it: beyond the extraordinary volume of Quebecois crammed into 23 buses (and with all the attention this story is getting, maybe it’ll be more (seats for the game are still available — hah!)), it’s a 10-hour busride from Quebec City to Long Island. This Revolution en Bleu is basically surrendering an entire holiday weekend for two-and-a-half hours of lousy hockey, just to make their passion and commitment more broadly known . And even with a somewhat downscaled New York media monitoring the moment, they surely will.
What an embarrassing moment tonight will be for this apparently tenured-for-life NHL commissioner. I’m all for embarrassing him. And it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the lower bowl in Glendale Bleu-ed-out by the Quebecois during a playoff game next spring. Canadians love migrating to the warm sun after a hard winter, and the moreso if unloved hockey in t-shirts and shorts is available.
Fanhouse has more on this massive breach of our borders by Nordiques’ bleu:
“The plan is that the large group of fans will sit in the lower bowl behind each net with light blue shirts that read ‘Nordiques Nation.” At the 15:00 mark of each period, the group plans to make a lot of noise to commemorate the 15 years it has been since the Nordiques left Quebec City for Denver. With rumors of relocation swirling for both the Thrashers and Islanders, the Nordiques supporters plan to make their voices heard in an attempt to help bring NHL hockey back to their hometown.
“We just want to show the N.H.L. that Quebec needs a team and is a better market,” [Quebec radio personality and event organizer Vince] Cauchon told the New York Times. “Maybe a third of the markets in the N.H.L. aren’t doing so well right now.”