SUN Hockey Pool

Hunter keen on Quebec City

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:32 AM ET

The next time Dale Hunter visits Quebec City, he plans to do it in style.

"I'm going to stay at the Chateau Frontenac (hotel)," the former Quebec Nordiques forward and current co-owner and head coach of the OHL's London Knights said with a grin.

"We didn't stay there (as players). But I've talked to the Stastnys and a lot of the guys from the team, and we're planning to make the trip back, probably this summer, for a get together."

Hunter has heard of the so-called Blue March rally being held Saturday at the Plains of Abraham to push for Quebec City's return to the NHL. He knows ex-teammates, including the Stastny brothers and Michel Goulet, are scheduled to attend the event expected to attract at least 50,000 people.

He can't make it, though, because he'll be taking a four-hour bus trip to Erie, Pa., to coach the Knights.

"But I've been back since I've played there," the 50-year-old said. "Two of my kids (were born there) and Dylan (one of his sons, who's now 25 and playing professional hockey) played in the peewee tournament and we went to watch.

"I'm always treated very well when I go back. I enjoy it a lot and there's so many good restaurants to go to."

Hunter knows the city's best shot at an NHL resurrection hinges on building the Chateau Frontenac of hockey arenas.

"The Colisee is still a great rink to play in but the NHL standards are very high right now," he said.

"They need that new rink and I know they've been talking about it. If they get it, there's no doubt it (the NHL) will work there again," Hunter said. "The fans are very passionate. They've always supported their team."

Hunter arrived in Quebec City in 1980. He carved out a reputation as a gritty centre who would do anything necessary to win -- including scrapping with his own younger brother Mark, then a Montreal forward and now the Knights' GM.

"When I got to Quebec, we didn't have a very good team," Hunter said. "We had a bunch of young guys who came up together and we worked together and started winning.

"We had a great rivalry with Montreal. It was always that way and it'll be that way (if the Nords return). It was the big city-little city thing. We were the little city trying to compete against one of the best franchises in hockey."

And after all those battles won and lost on behalf of the little guy, there's nothing wrong with coming back to visit -- and going uptown for a change.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca twitter.com/ryanpyette


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