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Nordiques Nation Invades Newark

The Quebec Nordiques played their last game on May 16, 1995 — a 4–2 loss to the Rangers in Game 6 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The franchise moved to Colorado in time for the 1995–96 season — it would capture the Cup in its first season in Denver — but there's a movement afoot to bring an NHL team back to Quebec. In December, an estimated 1,100 Nordiques fans traveled to an Islanders-Thrashers game at Nassau Coliseum to show that Quebec City could support its own hockey team. And yesterday, an even larger contingent made its way to the Devils-Bruins game in Newark.

"It's a way to show Gary Bettman how much we love hockey in Quebec City," said Jerome Landry, a reporter at Radio X in Quebec City and one of the trip's organizers. "It's not to make pressure on him, or trying to get an immediate response from him. We just want to do it for the love of hockey."

Landry said that more than 1,600 people made the trip this time, and that the number may even be closer to 2,000. Nordiques blue outnumbered Devils red on the plaza outside the arena before the game, even if it didn't inside once the contest began. And, in an acknowledgment of the team that calls the Prudential Center home, Quebec supporters alternated chants of "Nordiques Nation!" with ones of "Let's go, Devils!" (To a person, the Nordiques fans we spoke to were as friendly as they were enthusiastic. And they were very enthusiastic.)

So how realistic are Quebec City's chances of landing a team? Landry — who cautions that he doesn't wish that the fans in, say, Atlanta, lose their team — thinks it's a real possibility. "I think we have a really good chance," he said. "We have a new building that will be ready in 2015. I think we have a really, really good chance. Same thing as Winnipeg. I think Winnipeg and Quebec City will get new teams in two or three years maximum. I think with the problems in Atlanta, the problems in Phoenix, I think we're going to get back our team." For more from the afternoon, click ahead.

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Photo: Joe DeLessio