Tuesday, May 26, 2015

1976-77 Quebec Nordiques J. C. Tremblay Jersey

The Quebec Nordiques were one of the original 12 WHA franchises when the league was founded in 1972.

1972-73 Quebec Nordiques team photo 1972-73 Quebec Nordiques team.jpg
The inaugural 1972-73 Quebec Nordiques

They were led by long-time Montreal Canadien J. C. Tremblay, already a 300 goal scorer in the NHL. His 89 points led the heavily French-Canadien Nordiques who finished out of the playoffs following the 1972-73 season with a 33-40-5 record.

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JC Tremblay in the Nordiques first jersey

New arrival
Serge Bernier led the team in scoring in 1973-74 with 86 points and Rejean Houle joined the club, also from Montreal as the team once again missed out on the playoffs.

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Serge Bernier led the club in scoring in 1974

Bernier became the first Nordique to crack the top ten in WHA scoring when he exploded for 54 goals and 122 points in 1974-75. Houle added 92 points and hit the 40 goal mark after being limited to 64 games. The team continued to add talent, with Marc Tardif joining the club that season. His 38 goals and 72 points came in just 53 games after joining the team from the Michigan Stags. Real Cloutier would also make his Nordiques debut that season.

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Real Cloutier

The team would not only qualify for the playoffs for the first time ever, but romp past the Phoenix Roadrunners 4-1 and outlast the Minnesota Fighting Saints 4-2 to make it to the Avco World Trophy Finals before falling to Gordie Howe and the Houston Aeros. Tardif led the club in playoff scoring with 21 points in 15 games.

Tardif led the way in 1975-76, setting a new team record with 148 points from an outstanding 71 goals and 77 assists in 81 games. Cloutier finished the season with 60 goals of his own to give the Nordiques the top two places in the goal scoring race, while Houle's 51 placed him fifth.

Tardif's 148 points won the league scoring title, with Cloutier tied for third with 114,
Chris Bordeleau sixth at 109 and Houle and Bernier eighth and ninth with 103 and 102, giving the high scoring Nordiques five of the top nine scorers. Tremblay and Tardif tied for the most assists with 77 each.

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Marc Tardif would win the WHA MVP award in 1975-76

The Nordiques high powered offense, which scored 371 goals (4.6 per game and 26 more than second place), failed to deliver in the playoffs however, as the Calgary Cowboys eliminated the Nordiques in five games while outscoring them 23-15.

With Tardif limited to 62 games, it was Cloutier's turn to lead the club offensively. His 66 goals and 141 points led won him the scoring title and his 66 goals were good for second. Tardif (109 points, sixth), Bordeleau (107, seventh) and Bernier (96, tenth) also finished in the top ten.

The Nordiques reduced their goals against over the course of the season by 21 and headed into the playoffs as the second overall seed. They first knocked out the New England Whalers and then the Indianapolis Racers, both 4 games to 1 to advance to the finals against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Jets took Game 1 in Quebec 2-1, but the Nordiques came back strong in Game 2, winning 6-1. The Jets returned the favor, winning by an identical 6-1 score back in Winnipeg, but the Nordiques gained a split in Winnipeg to even the series at 2-2 by winning Game 4 by a 4-2 margin.

Quebec rolled at home 8-3 but once more Winnipeg fired right back, destroying the Nordiques 12-3 in Winnipeg to force a seventh and deciding game back in Quebec. The Nordiques take their turn to dominate play, and win the game 8-2 to capture the franchises one and only title on this date in 1977.

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The WHA champion 1976-77 Quebec Nordiques

The Nordiques would play two more seasons in the WHA, with Tardif and Cloutier again going 1-2 in points in 1978, with Tardif's 154 setting the all-time WHA record and earning him his second league MVP award, with Cloutier winning the scoring title again in 1979, the fourth consecutive by a member of the Nordiques. However, they would fail to reach the AVCO World Trophy finals of the ever shrinking WHA again.

The club would survive to be one of the four WHA teams granted entry into the NHL, where they would play for 16 more seasons before financial difficulties and their inability to get a new, modern arena constructed would result in their sale and relocation to Denver, Colorado in 1995, only to win the Stanley Cup in their first season after leaving Quebec.

Today's featured jersey is a
1976-77 Quebec Nordiques J. C. Tremblay jersey as worn during the season in which the Nordiques would win their only championship in franchise history.

After 13 seasons and five Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens, Tremblay made the jump to the rival WHA Nordiques. He was the only player to play for the Nordiques all seven seasons of the WHA and had his #3 retired by the club.

The original 1972 Nordiques jerseys used light blue had a considerable amount of red on both the shoulders and waist stripe. The following season the blue was changed to a considerably darker shade and the amount of red was limited to the shoulders on the home jerseys and narrower striping.

The familiar Nordiques style seen here was adopted in 1975 and remained in use through the Nordiques final season in Quebec twenty years later, although a new jersey with a modernized logo was scheduled to be introduced the season the club relocated to Denver, Colorado.

1976-77 Quebec Nordiques
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Our first video selection today features rare footage of Game 7 of the 1977 Finals. The white-clad players are often hard to see against the white ice since the video has brightness issues, but the thrill of the crowd is unmistakable as the home team dominates the game to win the title. Notice the number of fans who are able to run out onto the ice to join in the celebration!

If you have some time on your hands today, here is a highly recommended film entitled "Just Another Job", which runs 28 minutes and takes you behind the scenes of the Quebec Nordiques and coach Maurice Richard and their first ever game. Richard would only last two games as the Nordiques head coach!

Even if you don't have a half hour to spare, we implore you to at least check out the opening theme song, which runs a minute and a half and is not to be missed.

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