The 1994–95 Quebec Nordiques season was the twenty-third season of operation of the Nordiques and the last season that the team played in Quebec. The Nordiques would finish first over-all in the Eastern Conference, but lost in the first round to the New York Rangers. After the season, the club would be sold and relocated to Denver, Colorado.
The Nordiques exploded out of the gate, winning 5 games in a row and 12 of their first 13. Although they were an average team on the road, going just 11–12–1, the Nordiques had the best home record in the league: 19–1–4. Quebec's only defeat at home came on February 27 in a 7-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Captain Joe Sakic finished fourth in the league in points (62), Owen Nolan tied for third in the league in goals (30) and finished first in the league in game-winning goals (8), while Peter Forsberg led all rookies in points (50). Forsberg would go on to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie of the 1994–95 season. The team finished first in scoring in the league with 185 goals and was one of only two Eastern Conference teams to score at least one goal in all of their 48 regular-season games (the Buffalo Sabres were the other team). Quebec went on to finish first in the Eastern Conference with 65 points. The Nordiques tied the Flyers for most hat tricks scored during the regular season, with 6. Owen Nolan had 3, and Wendel Clark, Uwe Krupp and Scott Young each had 1.
The Nordiques faced the New York Rangers in the first round of the 1995 NHL Playoffs. On paper, the Nordiques were the clear favorite, since they had a much better record and had won the season series against the Rangers. However, New York's players had more playoff experience, since most of them had been members of the 1994 Stanley Cup champion team. This fact, combined with the Nordiques players' playoff inexperience and inability to maintain their effective power play, proved to be the ultimate factors in the series, as New York defeated Quebec 4 games to 2. Although each team had allowed only 134 goals during the regular season (tied for 9th in the league), it was an offensive series, as 44 goals were scored (25 by New York, 19 by Quebec) over the 6 games. To make things even worse, the following year, they would win the Stanley Cup in their first year in Colorado.
Had the Nordiques stayed in Quebec instead of heading for Denver, this would have been the franchise's new logo starting in 1996.
In the 1994–95 shortened season of 48 games, the Nordiques played well and finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference. However, the team faltered in the postseason and was eliminated in the first round by the defending Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers.
The playoff loss proved to be Quebec's swan song in the NHL as the team's financial troubles increasingly took center stage, even in the face of renewed fan support over the previous three years. Quebec City was by far the smallest market in the NHL, and the second-smallest market in North America to host a big-league team (behind only Green Bay, Wisconsin). The league's Canadian teams (with the exception of Montreal, Toronto, and to a lesser extent, Vancouver) found it difficult to compete in a new age of rising player salaries. This made many of the players concerned about their marketability, especially since the Nords always played in the long shadow of the Canadiens. In addition, most players were skittish about playing in what was virtually a unilingual Francophone city. Then as now, there were no privately owned English-language radio stations in the city, and only one privately owned English-language television station. The only English-language newspaper is a weekly. Unlike in Montreal, public address announcements were given only in French.
Aubut asked for a bailout from Quebec's provincial government. It didn't go through, and in May 1995, shortly after the Nordiques were eliminated from the playoffs, Aubut was forced to sell the team to a group of investors in Denver, Colorado. The franchise was moved to Denver where it was renamed the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche would win the Stanley Cup in their first season after the move, and add another in 2001.
The Nordiques had planned to change their logo, colours, and uniforms for the 1995–96 season, and the new design had already appeared in the Canadian press.
^Standings: NHL Public Relations Department (2008). Dave McCarthy et al., eds. THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE Official Guide & Record Book/2009. National Hockey League. p. 154. ISBN978-1-894801-14-0.CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al. (link)