Whenever the 2020-21 NHL season begins, it will be a special one for the Colorado Avalanche franchise. It will mark the 25th season since the team relocated to Denver and turned from the Quebec Nordiques to the Colorado Avalanche.
Now, rumors have surfaced that the Avalanche are looking at unveiling a Quebec Nordiques themed alternate jersey for next season. Until now, the Avalanche have chosen to base their “throwback” alternates around the old Colorado Rockies uniforms. For the first time, it’s sounding as though that could change as the team wants to acknowledge their time in Canada.
The rumors have been fueled by both team ownership and the NHL’s official Twitter account in recent days.
Should the @Avalanche bring back the Nordiques jerseys for some games to celebrate their 25th anniversary next season? ♂️@NHLdotcom has the story ➡️ https://t.co/rSvOHrgYWw pic.twitter.com/BmtKRknX9q— NHL (@NHL) May 12, 2020
The desire to see the old Nordiques jerseys for a few games is one that has been talked about by fans for years. Until now, it seemed as though the organization has had no desire to bring them back - even as a one-off.
That stance might be changing according to Declan Bolger, the senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. Bolger told The Athletic:
“I think there is an opportunity. We’ve talked about it, but the opportunity has not arose up to now. It’s not the only thing we’ve talked about. We have talked about a lot of things. Up to now, we have not had a uniform that has incorporated the Nordiques, but it is clear other clubs like Carolina have recently leaned into their past,” Bolger said. “With Pierre (Lacroix), Joe and Jean being with the team, you look in the media guide and how the Nordiques’ records are included with the Avalanche’s records, we certainly do acknowledge the Nordiques. We have been back there twice for exhibition games. It’s something we have leaned in to instead of away from.”
A couple year ago, the Carolina Hurricanes wore the old Hartford Whalers jerseys for two regular-season games and Bolger mentioned that has led the Avalanche to consider “honoring their roots”.
Everyone knows what the old Nordiques jerseys look like. They were worn by Avalanche legends Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg early on in their career but beyond that, they have no ties to the Avalanche whatsoever. With a completely different color palate and no theme/logo tie-in, these Nordiques jerseys do not make fans think of hockey in the Mile High City.
If the franchise decides they want to honor the Nordiques next season, there is a way they can do so while still remaining true to the Avalanche.
Before joining the NHL for the 1979-80 season, the Nordiques were a part of the rival WHA. They had been a member of the league since 1972 after the Quebec-based ownership group stole the franchise from San Francisco.
During their time in the WHA, the Nordiques wore a few designs of jersey that are different from the classic ones most hockey fans think of. That said, the color scheme was relatively the same - except for in their inaugural season. That year, the team’s primary color was still the familiar powder blue but the accenting color was one that is very relevant to the Avalanche.
For the 1972-73 season, the team wore a burgundy and blue iteration that would be perfect for the Avs to use as their throwback.
It’s been 25 years since the team relocated to Colorado. Aside from old highlight videos of Sakic or Forsberg, the old Nordiques jerseys hold very little relevance to the Avalanche fan base. So if the team wants to honor their history, it makes sense that they do it in a way that stays true to the current team. A design based around these original WHA jerseys would do just that.
Putting an Avalanche spin on the old Quebec jerseys is the perfect way to reflect on the past while staying true to the current franchise. Also, if they are closer to the Avs’ color scheme, there’s a strong possibility that the team can sell a lot more - and at the end of the day, that’s the only real reason a franchise has alternate jerseys. This would be a creative twist on the throwback alternate - which means it likely won’t happen since NHL teams are often loath to be creative.
The opportunity exists to blend the two stages of the team’s history together. A Nordiques jersey with an Avalanche flair would anger many Quebecois hockey fans but it would give a sense of understanding that the franchise has moved on to bigger and better things. Put together properly - with burgundy pants and gloves - and this would have the potential to be one of the best alternate looks the NHL has seen in a long time.