Hear About Hartford?

I was waiting for the logo to be released to announce this news, and Hartford didn’t disappoint.

Howard Baldwin, the former owner of the Hartford Whalers, has been trying to buy or control the Hartford Wolf Pack for months and about a month ago he was given control over the marketing and sales operation of the team. Why?

Baldwin wants to bring an NHL franchise back to Hartford.

Good luck with that. There’s a reason the NHL moved out of that city and to Raleigh, North Carolina of all places. Ironically, that move worked. But things are different with Hartford. Hartford was ranked 18th in the AHL for attendance last year. Granted, last season was also the first season in 12 the team didn’t make the playoffs, but that is very sad for that market, especially when considering they’re the AHL affiliate of one of the most popular NHL franchises in America. Baldwin has been moving frantically holding a Whalers reunion week with old stars like Gordie Howe coming out and even going as far as changing the team’s name, logo, and uniform.

That’s right. Goodbye Hartford Wolf Pack, hello Connecticut Whale.

Sometime mid season the Hartford Wolf Pack will cease to exist and the Connecticut Whale will take over. Baldwin has been propping this all over the Hartford area and you can even find people in Connecticut Whale t-shirts sporting this logo. Who’s that whale of a mascot jumping through C’s to get to the puck you ask? Well that’s Sonar, their new mascot. So long Pucky (wasn’t much of a creative name anyways).

That Hartford Wolf Pack booster club will merge with the Whalers booster club to form a new “conglomerate”.

Wednesday was the first big day for the team as they played an exhibition game against the Albany Devils. Amongst the crowd of Hartford Wolf Pack jerseys were Whalers jerseys and Connecticut Whale t-shirts. Together they all cheered as recent cutee Mats “Blueshirt Baggins” Zuccarello scored the first goal of the game and as the Pack went on to shutout the Devils 3-0. Zuccarello is sure to raise attendance in Hartford while he’s there. Isn’t he?

Tags: Blueshirt Baggins Connecticut Whale Hartford Whalers Hartford Wolf Pack Howard Baldwin Mats Zuccarello Aasen

  • Danny

    I’m really not trying to be rude but you seem to be missing some vital information about the circumstances leading to this. There was indeed a reason the team left. The owners business interests were all in the Carolinas. He had no intention of ever keeping the team in Hartford. A season ticket sales goal was offered by Mr. Karmanos to Hartford fans which would have kept them in Hartford. When this goal was met, instead of keeping the team in Hartford he simply asked that thousands more tickets be sold to keep the team in town. As I said, the intention of Mr. Karmanos’ was always to move the team. It is his great trophy, a pretty thing to show off to his friends. And why should he have to jump on a plane to Hartford every time he wants to show them off? Yes attendance was poor but certainly no worse than many other teams in the league at the time or present. This after a decade of losing seasons. Then the Rangers organization moves in (mind you, second only to Boston as the most hated rival of the Whalers- possibly third behind Montreal) I for one was taunted at the first home game for wearing my Whalers jersey to the game, even though I had been rooting wholeheartedly for the Pack. This was not one lone group of jerks in an isolated incident, it was repeated on my second and third (my third being my last) attended Wolf Pack games.

    To sum it up, in my opinion and from my experience the reason for the current situation and the dwindling support for the Wolf Pack is simply the alienation of Whaler fans (the largest hockey fan demographic in the state) and the loss of our own hockey identity. We have bigger aspirations than being the bastard stepchild of New York or Boston. And Mr. Baldwin may not ultimately be the champion that brings the Whalers back to the NHL. But for now he is our greatest chance. And for that Connecticut loves him.

  • http://www.bluelinestation.com Mike Hirsch

    Some very good valid points. And I understand your dilemma of not wanting to be some “stepchild” to two bigger markets, but I’m sorry to say, you lost out.

    You can’t solely blame the previous owner. Yes, we all know he was greedy and left for greener pastures, but as you know, it takes two to tango. There many aspects that went into the Whalers becoming the Hurricanes. First off, the Hartford/New Haven market is the 30th largest TV market in America, that’s not very high, especially considering the area that’s already saturated with the Rangers, Devils, Islanders, and Bruins. Even the Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville), NC market is ranked 25th and it isn’t surrounded by competition. If the money was in Hartford he would’ve stayed. He bought the team trying to make a winning franchise, albeit not very hard, but tried. He also wanted a new arena, which isn’t an unreasonable request considering if an NHL franchise would be there now, only the Islanders,Rangers, and Oilers play in older facilities. We all know the Rangers are never leaving MSG and the Islanders play in a barn. You had a Governor who cared only about the Patriots and refused a new arena.
    I’m not saying Karmanos was an angel, by no means. By 1996 he wanted out. It was obvious by his absurd demands and elimination of mini-game packages. But considering the facts I just mentioned, the final 5 losing seasons, and the fact the team didn’t win more than 34 games in a season since ’89-’90, you can’t help but notice that it took a whole city to eff that one up.

    If Connecticut wants an NHL franchise so badly to return then you might actually have to suck it up and go support one of the only professional team you have. Baldwin is making the right moves, yes. But we’re not talking about the Colts leaving in the middle of the night. This was the result of an entire city, an owner, and a governor who abandoned a franchise.

  • Danny

    Alright, I can go along with that. The article just had a tinge of passive agressiveness towards the fans. Sure, turn out was less than stellar as losing season after losing season passed. But many of us stuck with our team. My father and I certainly did our part. With little money to go around, we still made it out to at least one game a month. I’m glad to hear you say, “Baldwin is making the right moves, yes.” It’s about time someone around here gave the right moves a try. I’m already making plans to head down to the mall this winter. And a lot of other people are too. This is a great thing for hockey in Hartford. I suppose I just wished the article showcased a little positivity. We could all use it.