ANDREW HOLLAND (@Andrew_Holland)
By Adrian Dater
I wish the way I’ve met them could have been under different circumstances. The way I’ve met so many people from Quebec since 1995, either in person or online, was because they lost their hockey team to Denver.
In 2001, I went to Quebec City for the first time – six years after the Nordiques moved to Denver – for a story about how the people there had dealt with the loss of their team six years earlier. It was tough, because the people in Quebec LOVE hockey. Love it. What a treat it was to be there, though. What a great city. And, what a dinner I had one night there with former Nordiques owner Marcel Aubut. That should probably be an “Avalanche Storytime with Adrian” segment.
I’ve always said this: the fan in the last row of the nosebleeds at a game in Canada has more hockey knowledge in their little pinkie than I ever will in my whole body. Hell, I couldn’t skate worth a damn growing up. I was 6-foot-6 in high school. I was a basketball player. Our high school didn’t have a hockey team. Yeah, I love the game now and can tell you what’s going on out there for the most part. But it’s their game. I’ve always known that.
So, it’s always been nice for me to have conversed over the years with people like Andrew Holland. He didn’t grow up in Quebec, but in New Brunswick, just a bit further east. Today, Andrew is the media relations director for Nature Conservancy of Canada. In the past, Holland was as big a Nordiques fan as you could find.
“Their AHL farm team played in my community of Fredericton, New Brunswick here in Atlantic Canada. It was neat to meet the Stastny brothers as an elementary school kid. Québec played Calgary in an NHL exhibition game in Fredericton as well.
Nordiques were only a six-hour drive from us but due to the beer wars (Molson owned the Habs vs O’Keefe who owned a stake in Nordiques and their network ownership squabbles) here in Canada – were rarely on TV and were the underdogs versus Montréal. Every Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada – we got either the Habs or Leafs when it was a 21-team league.
A few seasons after they left – Montréal relocated its AHL franchise from Sherbrooke, Québec to Fredericton
So when the Nordiques got sold to Denver – I didn’t want to abandon supporting a team that went through several lean years in the late 80s and early 90s
I remember a headline on the front page of The Hockey News: “Hapless Nordiques on the road to nowhere”. That was in the 1991-92 season. They scuffled along for a number of years.
Trading coach Michel Bergeron was the start of the demise.
Same with Malarchuk and Hunter deal with the Caps – which ironically led to the draft of Joe Sakic by Québec.
Trading Peter Stastny to the Devils for Craig Wolanin was also a sad day.
Same with Goulet to the Black Hawks.”
That’s a true Nords fan right there, with those references. I hope they get a team back.
Andrew has a history in media, too:
“I worked in the news and sports media from 1989-2003. Mostly private radio but also a lot of provincial cable in New Brunswick along with some newspaper work.
Interviewed Sakic, Sundin and others after Québec played an exhibition game versus Ottawa down in Halifax Nova Scotia – a 4 1/2 hour drive from here. Alex Tanguay played major junior in Halifax.”
Merci for being a subscriber, Andrew.
TAKE FIVE (QUESTIONS)
- What is your favorite part of history, in general, the one you’re most interested in? I like geography, maps and trying to find out what historically comes from these areas – whether it is food production or why they are historically or culturally important, looking also at human history and learning about famous people who are from these areas. That extends to sports as well. Cheering for Avalanche/Nordiques along with the Red Sox – learning as much about the history of the franchise and having an appreciation for those who played and coached/led/built them over the years from scouts, to directors of player personnel.
2. What’s the last thing you built with your hands? Golly, I have hands of stone and abhor manual labour! I defer to my wife who is seriously good at everything and is project manager in our house. I can use a paint brush and helped put some flooring down but otherwise have to hire people, buy the beer, pizza and materials and stay out of the way! We all have our strengths but beyond yard-work, being a handy-type around the house with construction, renovations isn’t one of my areas of expertise.
3. If you could only have sports or music, but not the other, in your life, which would you choose? This is almost like being a salary-cap team and having to choose between keeping one star over another! I am a lifelong RUSH fan so this is extremely tough to have to throw them overboard….but would have to say sports because beyond the final score — you meet great people in the local community and elsewhere. It helps bring people together and is a conversation piece year-round even though people may cheer for different teams. I worked in the news and sports media from 1989-2003 and my time in the rinks, around the fields, basketball court, golf courses were rewarding, from the volunteers and off-ice officials to the athletes and some real characters. I enjoyed it far more than covering politicians, reporting on legal proceedings and court cases or municipal government meetings or other news.
4. Do you think Quebec will get another NHL team? I sincerely hope it happens soon. But. Sadly, no…I don’t envision it.especially under Gary Bettman’s tenure. I haven’t seen any evidence that he is interested in expanding anywhere in Canada if these areas don’t generate/grow more revenue for the league. In 2018, I happened to attend a conference in Montreal and met a gentleman who has worked in wireless telecommunications for many years. He was part of a group that worked on a feasibility study and preliminary business case for an NHL franchise in Quebec City. Their findings were that Quebec would certainly have loyal and pure hockey-mad fans who would fill their new rink versus corporate folks taking up seats. While the team would sell out games, he questioned who may be the investors to ensure the long-term viability and health of a team in a market that doesn’t have a big corporate presence. With escalating salaries and the costs to acquire a team increasing so much….who would step forward? And since the Nords left, the Montreal Canadiens have restored their total grip now on loyalties in La Belle Province! I don’t think they would embrace competition for those territorial rights, fans and corporate support in the Province of Quebec. And companies with media holdings and who have had deep pockets to invest are now concerned about the uncertainty in operating those businesses with the financial pressures in the ever-changing media industry. I would love to see hockey return as I am only a 5 1/2 hour drive away in New Brunswick. The Nordiques AHL team played here in Fredericton during the 1980s, so it would be cool but unless teams struggle in other markets and get relocated, I don’t see Quebec getting an opportunity. Bettman has given a long leash to some U.S. markets (Arizona, Florida) and conventional wisdom up here in Canada is he will find a way to help them buy time and figure things out. Will Quebec have a team in 10 years? By that time, Quebec’s new rink will be halfway through its lifecycle and these facilities quickly become outdated due to technology.
5. What was the first book you really loved? This took a lot of thought and I am not sure there is one specific book that I loved! Here are three I enjoyed and recommend for hockey and sports fans: “The Day I (Almost) Killed Two Gretzkys” by TSN Hockey host James Duthie. Funny anecdotes, short-stories and is self-deprecating. “McCown’s Law. The 100 Greatest Hockey Arguments” written by Bob McCown, who is a sports radio and TV legend here in Canada. Up until a few months ago, McCown had a national syndicated TV and Radio show on Rogers-owned Radio (590 AM in Toronto and broadcast across the country on Sportsnet TV). Bob has been a polarizing figure and can come across as ornery and cranky — but he often plays devil’s advocate, says things and takes positions that engage his audiences and makes people think. Another book that was exceptional was “Hockey Dad. True confessions of a (crazy) hockey parent” by Bob McKenzie. Bob is a trusted source and authority on hockey, music and even wine recommendations — this book really sheds a light on a lot of things behind the scenes and gives a perspective that many people may not be aware of and or even thought about.