QUEBEC CITY – Quebec Nordiques fans have invaded the Big Apple.
Over a thousand hockey enthusiasts are in New York City to drum up support for the return of the NHL franchise.
Clad in vintage jerseys from the defunct team, 22 busloads of them headed south of the boarder Friday night, reaching Manhattan by Saturday morning.
Hopeful a public display of support will catch the eye of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, they’ve bought tickets to Saturday’s game between the New York Islanders and the Atlanta Thrashers.
They’ll create a phalanx of royal blue behind each net at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum.
The Nordiques fan club will also trumpet and cheer for their cause whenever the clock at the coliseum hits the quarter after point – a symbolic way to highlight the 15 years Quebec City has gone without a professional hockey team.
The group has already managed to get noticed, garnering a short article in the New York Times earlier this week.
Nordiques Nation, a fan club for the former team with thousands of members, planned the event.
The road trip is the second rally headed by the outfit to buttress support for the franchise’s return to the provincial capital. They were also the masterminds behind the Blue March in early October that saw 50,000 people and 16 ex-Nordiques players flood the city’s historic Plaines of Abraham.
The Quebec Nordiques left the provincial capital in 1995 and became the Colorado Avalanche.
Municipal and provincial politicians have been lobbying the NHL for the team’s return and are trying to raise funds to build a new NHL-ready arena in the city.