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League co-founders Gary L Davidson and Larry Murphy were also the key players behind the proposed team in San Fransisco. But upon seeing the NHL's woes in Oakland, coupled with their own financing problems, the Seahawks never landed. They were sold to a group of investors in Quebec City and began the inaugural 72-73 season as Les Nordiques (The Northerners) amid much heckling in the media. Les Canadiens were after all the most successful team in sports history. Management's initial plan was to builid around a core of French-Canadien players, much like their cross-league rivals in Montreal. Topping the list was JC Tremblay, ex of The Habs - a standout two-way defenceman whose gritty play management hoped to build around. And although Winnipeg had signed Bobby Hull and Cleveland had Gerry Cheevers between the pipes, Les Nords made news of their own when Rocket Richard agreed to be the head coach, though he quit after the first game.
The debut year was filled with ups and downs. Despite Tremblay's league-leading 75 assists, it was the team's inconsistency that resulted in them finishing the season in ninth place ... out of the playoffs. Off-season dealings led to the signing of more high profile Montreal Canadiens - Rejean Houle and Serge Bernier. They also talked future hall of fame goalie Jacques Plante into coming on baord as the new head coach. Despite marginal imporvements in most areas, their 38 - 36 - 4 record was only good for fifth in the East, again not good enough to qualify for post-season play.
The team picked up on the previous season's improvement and became one of the league's better clubs in '74-75. Though Plante decided not to return as coach (instead opting to come out of retirement and play for the Edmonton Oilers), it was another goalie who helped stage the part of the dramatic improvement. Although in the system from the league's beginning, Richard Brodeur with his ??? GAA that year was one of the reasons behind Les Nords' dramatic improvement. was credited to the addition of Marc Tardif, who they acquired from the Michigan Stags before their mid-season move to Baltimore and the wooing of Real Cloutier from Les Canadiens. With a new alignment to accomodate two new clubs, they finished the campaign first in the Canadian division with 92 points, second best overall - and headed to the playoffs for the first time.
Their first round