Last season, our Franchise Best series talked about the best season in each team’s respective history. However, what about some of the teams that don’t exist anymore? There have been plenty of memorable teams that are no longer with us. Today we look at the Franchise Best season for the 1984-85 Quebec Nordiques.
The Quebec Nordiques were one of the original franchises of the World Hockey Association. The legendary Maurice Richard was even the team’s first head coach for two games. Quebec would build an offensively powerful team led by J.C. Trombley and their group of stars.
The Nordiques would win the Avco World Trophy in 1976-77, but the league was struggling. Owner Marcel Aubut checked on interest in the NHL and Quebec was part of the four teams that were accepted in the merger with the Hartford Whalers, Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers.
Quebec struggled in the early days after the merger but started to build a winner with young players like Michel Goulet and Peter Stastny. The Nords would be a consistent fixture in the Adams Division playoffs. However, they’d have always run up against the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins because of the playoff structure. The Nordiques had made the conference final in 1981-82 but lost to the New York Islanders.
Quebec Nordiques 1984-85 Season
Previous Season and Pre-Season Additions
In the previous season, the Nordiques made the post-season and beat the Buffalo Sabres in the divisional semifinal. However, the rival Canadiens ended their season. That series included the infamous Good Friday Massacre where there were plenty of fights and numerous ejections. The epic brawl spanned multiple periods and resulted in 11 ejections and 252 penalty minutes.
New assistant coach Guy Lapointe brought in Richard Sevigny from the rival Habs. Quebec was quiet on the trade and free-agent front as it made only a few minor deals. The Nordiques traded cash to the St. Louis Blues for Dan Wood and Richard Zemlak. They also got cash from the Detroit Red Wings as they sent Frantisek Cernik to the Motor City.
It wasn’t a good start for Quebec as it got out of the gate with a 3-6-1 record and were in last place after the first month of the season. The Nordiques were mediocre at best for the first half of the season. They were 16-16-6 after 38 games and locked in a battle for third with the Bruins.
Flipping the Switch
However, things got better in the second half as Quebec only lost four games in February and March each. The Nordiques managed to pick up key wins over divisional rivals. They ended April with a 2-2 record but had already sealed a place in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Quebec finished second in the Adams Division behind Montreal. Maybe the bad early season start cost the Nordiques their first division title since coming over from the WHA.
The Stastny Factor
Not only was Peter a leading figure on the club. But he was joined by brothers Anton Stastny and Marian Stastny. Peter reached 100 points in 75 games with 32 goals and 68 assists while Anton was third in points with 38 goals and 42 assists for 80 points. Marian chipped in with seven goals and 14 assists in 50 games.
The brotherly trio was important to Quebec’s success after coming over from Czechoslovakia in the early 80s. Peter ended up with a Hall of Fame career and even a post-career life in politics.
The Stastny’s were joined by leading goal-scorer Goulet, who scored 55 goals and added 40 assists. Dale Hunter provided 20 goals and 52 assists while Brent Ashton and Wilf Paiement also eclipsed the 20-goal mark. Mario Marois led all defencemen in scoring with six goals and 37 assists in 68 games.
Quebec made a few trades during the season as they picked up Luc Dufour and a fourth-round pick from Boston for Louis Sleigher on Oct. 25. Dufour would then be flipped to the Blues for Alain Lemieux on Jan. 29, 1985.
Ashton was the biggest addition as he came over with Brad Maxwell from the Minnesota North Stars for Tony McKegney and Bo Berglund on Dec. 14. Quebec received Tom Thornbury from the Pittsburgh Penguins for Brian Ford.
Peter Stastny and Goulet were the top playoff scorers as both got over 20 points in the playoffs. Stastny finished with 23 while Goulet added 21 respectively. New acquisitions Maxwell and Ashton were next on the list with 11 and 10 while Alain Cote provided 10 points.
Rookie goalie Mario Gosselin went 9-8 with a 3.06 goals-against average as he played most of the team’s postseason games.
First Round vs. Buffalo
Home ice would rule the day as the hosts won all five games in the series. Quebec got out to a 2-0 lead with victories at Le Colisee. However, the Sabres would pour on the offence in both games at the Aud by scoring seven goals twice.
Buffalo had Quebec on the ropes in the deciding Game 5, but the Nordiques rallied for three straight goals by Cote, Randy Moeller and Ashton. The victory would set up a meeting with its provincial rivals in Montreal.
Adams Division Final vs. Montreal
The bad blood from last year’s series would play out and Quebec would get the first word in the series with a Mark Kumpel overtime-winner in Game 1. Montreal would get the split at the Forum with a 6-4 victory in the second game.
The teams would trade wins until Game 7 at the Forum. Quebec would get a 2-0 lead, but Montreal would fight back and force overtime thanks to Mats Naslund. However, Peter Stastny would score the OT-winner to give the Nordiques only their second series win over the Canadiens.
Wales Conference Final vs. Philadelphia
However, the Nords run would end against the President Trophy-winning Philadelphia Flyers. Peter Stastny would again score an overtime-winner for Quebec in Game 1. However, the Flyers would end the series in six games. Philadelphia would fall to Edmonton in the Stanley Cup Final.
Quebec would get that division title next season but were shocked by Hartford in the next opening round of the post-season. The Nordiques would get the last laugh the next year as they eliminated the Whalers in the next season.
However, it would be the last time they’d make the post-season until the 1992-93 season.
What Happened to Quebec Nordiques?
The Nordiques struggled until the refusal of Eric Lindros to play for them got a big return from the Flyers. Quebec would get Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne and others. They would be the basis of one of the best teams in the 90s.
However, that base would be in Denver as the club sold by Aubut to COMSAT that owned the Denver Nuggets of the NBA. The team would be renamed the Colorado Avalanche and win the Stanley Cup the very next season and again in 2000-01.
Pro hockey still eludes Quebec City, but they are always bandied about as a potential expansion or relocation city.
PHILADELPHIA – CIRCA 1985: Alain Cote #19 of the Quebec Nordiques skates against Doug Crossman #3 of the Philadephia Flyers during the NHL game at the Spectrum circa 1985 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)