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The Flower on the NHL in Quebec City Add to ...

Today comes word that Guy Lafleur, the Démon Blond of blessed memory, is convinced NHL hockey could soon be reborn in Quebec City.

This one's a bit like picking a scab for the author of these here lines. It's taken years of therapy, but I now recognize that what I experienced in the 1980s, watching my childhood hero suit up for the Nords after retiring from the Habs in a huff - screw you Jacques Lemaire! - was cognitive dissonance.

But that's all melted into the mists of time, the Flower is still the Flower, and says exactly what he thinks at all times and under all circumstances (well maybe not all circumstances, as in the sad episode of R. v Lafleur).

Lafleur has told the Journal de Quebec that he's certain the league will soon come back to Quebec City, provided plans go ahead for a new arena.

"Given what's happening in the league at the moment, Quebec deserves to reclaim its place. (NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman is sticking his thumb in his eye by continuing to ignore strong markets in Canada. I'm talking about Quebec, but you could say the same thing about Winnipeg or even Hamilton," he told the paper.

Lafleur also took a pretty good run at the NHL leadership, saying they should just allow the Coyotes to move and be done with it. And he thinks they should also start thinking about new homes for the Panthers and Lightning, too.

"Things are not rosy in the NHL at the moment. Bettman's going to have to wake up. It doesn't do any good to stubbornly keep a team in a city like Phoenix. Soon the situation will repeat itself in Florida . . . other organizations are in trouble," he said.

The return of the NHL to La Vieille Capitale, which has been a wishful thought since about five minutes after the Nords decamped, actually seems to be building steam.

There are several groups who want to build a new rink, although two of them aren't much interested in hockey, they want concerts and trade shows.

And the city's relentlessly optimistic mayor, Régis Labeaume, may just be enough of a character to pull it off. Only the hardest hearts are able to resist his starry-eyed "La belle grande ville de Québec" sales pitch.

Hm. Maybe it's time for French Immersion to take the show on the road and head up the Jean Lesage highway.

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