Writer’s note: This will be a four-part series on the 2017 NHL season, where a second team is added into the expansion fold alongside the Vegas Golden Knights; the Quebec Nordiques. I’ll be covering the year from the beginning of the 2017-18 season to just after free agency in the 2018 offseason. The majority of the season will be simmed, games against the top-tier teams will be played, and I’ll play one playoff game each round if the Nordiques make it through in their inaugural season. This first article will be the rebirth of the Quebec Nordiques.
One of the greatest feature additions to the NHL franchise in the last 10 years, in my opinion, is this year’s ability to start franchise mode and expand the league. Besides including the the chance to start off with a 31 team Expansion Draft including the Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL dev team took things a step further and also included the ability to add a 32nd NHL team. This fantastic capability compelled me to start a new franchise with a team that I followed from their original home in the frigid Province of Quebec, Canada, to their home in Colorado. Yes, I’m a Colorado Avalanche fan by default, originally being a fan of the Quebec Nordiques.
The expansion talks in the NHL over the last four to five have been at a fever pitch with a new city seemingly a topic of discussion every other month. Las Vegas and Quebec were the two front runners for an expansion franchise with rumblings around the league as of the 2014 season. Las Vegas ended up winning out and getting a team, but thanks to NHL 18 history can slightly be altered. I took this new feature and opportunity to give the city of Quebec its team back. Let’s take a ride along and witness the rewriting of history with the Quebec Nordiques.
The History, The Brand And The Surprise Addition Of A Second NHL Expansion Team
In the summer of 2016, Las Vegas is unanimously approved on their expansion bid, granting Sin City its first major professional sports franchise and the NHL’s first expansion team since 2000. In November 2016, the Las Vegas NHL franchise reveals its name as the Vegas Golden Knights.
Hockey fans in Quebec are left with a sour taste in their mouths as they had fought to get a franchise back to their city for the first time since 1995, when their beloved Nordiques packed up and moved across the border to the United States to call Colorado their new home. Fans were left with further ire after the newly re-branded Colorado Avalanche went on to win the 1996 Stanley Cup, months removed from their former home in Quebec.
Enter January 2017, when a shock announcement by the NHL shakes up both the league and the sporting world: Commissioner Gary Bettman announces that a shadow vote was held during the 2016 league owners’ meeting that also received a unanimous vote to allow a second expansion bid for a new NHL team. Due to the strong support and fan backing for a franchise, the Quebec group is permitted to bring NHL hockey back to the city with a home arena in the recently built Videotron Centre. Bettman then goes on to announce that the second expansion franchise would be revived as their old team of years past: the Quebec Nordiques. Both the Vegas Golden Knights and Quebec Nordiques are set to join the NHL for the upcoming 2017-18 season. After this huge announcement the anticipation for the 2017 season to get underway is high. The Nordiques and their fans look forward to the future and the team they would be placing on the ice. There was still lots to do to get the franchise ready, but the expansion draft was where the team would be made to start their future.
In taking on the rebirth of the Quebec Nordiques, I created the team from scratch with heavy historical reference and inspiration. Quebec is a small hockey market with a metropolitan population of roughly 800,000 people; despite this, hockey fans there are hardcore fans that breathe the essence of the sport. In the province of Quebec, the rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens would be reborn, and despite not having as lengthy or as rich of a history as the Canadiens, the hockey history that the Nordiques do have is still very good.
NHL 18’s team customization options are very good, allowing you to create almost everything you’d need to get an upstart expansion franchise looking good on and off the ice. You even have the ability to create your own team mascot, which is pretty cool. In re-birthing the Nordiques I stuck with tradition and history. For the team logo, I went with the old vintage logo that the team was known to have for 23 years.
I kept the same team color scheme of old, which is a slightly lighter blue, red and white. You also have the option of having two alternate team logos and I made those without thinking twice. The first alternate logo I chose is the outline of the Province of Quebec with a fleur-de-lis; the fleur-de-lis was a part of the original team uniforms of the Nordiques. For the second alternate logo, I decided to incorporate another part of team history that didn’t happen due to the team’s relocation to Colorado. Ownership had a new logo and branding design for the team were they to stay in Quebec, which was an aggressive looking Siberian husky with new team colors of teal, black and navy. I chose the logo that represented something similar, going with the choice seen below.
Next up was the design of the Videotron Centre home arena. I looked over several pictures of the arena in real life and tried to best re-create what I thought it would look like with the Quebec Nordiques as its main attraction. I felt like I encapsulated a pretty good final result, right down to the arena effects and music choices. Here’s a couple shots of the final result.
Next up, it was time to create the uniforms. For this I wanted to bring back the uniforms that the Nordiques used to wear, almost to par, but with subtle changes. One thing you’ll notice is that the fleur-de-lis isn’t on the home and away uniforms. This was due to the fact that it just wasn’t possible to add it to the uniforms in the game. Hopefully the NHL team adds in some options to further deepen customization capabilities so that things like this could be done in the future. The home uniforms were light blue with the secondary team logo to avoid color conflict between the main team logo and uniform colors.
I felt that this look worked well and was close to the old uniforms of the Nordiques. Next, for the away uniforms I again went with history, and used the white and light blue color scheme, opting to use the main team logo.
Lastly, for the alternate team uniform, I gave a go at reproducing the re-branded team jerseys that never came to fruition. I had a hard time getting comfortable with jersey choices and spent quite some time trying to get what I felt would be the best representation for this alternate uniform as a whole. Despite the player equipment (gloves) and goalie equipment (blocker, trapper, pads) being all black, I felt that the final result was as close as I could get to what could have been.
Franchise Revival Complete, Closing Out Part One
As you’ve now seen the branding, revival and inception of the Quebec Nordiques, only great things look to be in store for the future of this newly risen franchise. What do you think of what’s been done so far? How do you think the team will look? Tune in to the second part of this franchise story to find out!