NHL: Why the Coyotes Becoming the Quebec Nordiques is Unlikely

Edgar Chaput | Updated May 19, 2023

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Arizona Coyotes

On Tuesday a public referendum in Tempe, Arizona decided against a plan for a new hockey arena for the NHL’s Coyotes. Are the Nordiques lying in wait?

The Quebec Nordiques. That’s a franchise name that makes the rounds of NHL chatter every so often. Its name came up once again this week in the aftermath of voters in Tempe, Arizona speaking out against an entertainment project that included the construction of a new, professional-level arena for the Arizona Coyotes.

Quebec City’s never forgotten franchise last played in the spring of 1995, after which it moved to Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche. With the public voting against a project that would have significantly supported the Coyotes, can Nordiques faithful dream again?

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Tempe Voters Say No to Coyotes Arena

As most hockey fans know, the Coyotes currently share a small-size venue with the Arizona State University called Mullett Arena. It can hold a capacity of 4,600 fans, significantly lower than NHL standards.

On Tuesday evening, votes were tallied in a public referendum in Tempe that would have given hope for a bigger, modern venue for the Coyotes to host games. The proposition was struck down, thus sending this much-maligned franchise into another tailspin of uncertainty.

Coyotes Move to Quebec Unlikely

Naturally, the discussion about relocation resulted from the aftermath of the vote, and the Quebec Nordiques were again mentioned in the news. But as TSN explains on Friday, the chances of Quebec City seeing an NHL club return are slim.

For one, there are two other cities in close geographical proximity with higher odds according to bookies: Salt Lake City and Sacramento. Houston, Kansas City and, believe it or not, Toronto have also been mentioned.

CTV reporter Daniel J. Rowe spoke with a sports economist professor at Concordia University, Mosche Lander, who outlines a few of the issues.

“At the end of the day, you can’t just relocate an NHL Franchise without the agreement of three-quarters of the NHL owners and without a very, very hefty relocation fee.”

An article in The Athletic also points out the low population – 800,000 – and the lack of a corporate base in Quebec City. Another hurdle? The high taxation rate in the province of Quebec, especially when compared to Arizona. Convincing players to move there would be a tall challenge.

For now, the Coyotes are expected to play at least one more season at Mullett Arena, but the trials and tribulations of their very existence continue. This past season the team finished 28-40-14