This week marks a tough anniversary in Connecticut history. Thirteen years ago the Hartford Whalers left the capital city, breaking the hearts of fans all across the land of steady habits and beyond. The loss of the Whalers is still being felt to this day: no longer does your capital city get a daily mention on ESPN during the hockey season, and stores surrounding the Coliseum are all empty. Hockey fans from all over the country are no longer coming to hotels in the city to cheer on their home teams from Montreal and Chicago playing road games against our Whalers.
Since 1997, we’ve heard of various efforts to restore major league sports in our state, and now there is a new plan from a familiar face who knows a little something about bringing a team here. His name is Howard Baldwin, one of the original owners of the Whalers who moved them from Boston to Hartford 36 years ago.
Baldwin has moved back here with his wife and they have opened an office right near the XL Center. His plan is to beef up minor league hockey here and they pursue the NHL, all the while using the Whalers name. It is essential a team be called the Whalers, according to Baldwin.
The man who produced the movie “Ray” lays out an interesting case for major league hockey in Hartford. I asked him whether rumors that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is anti-Hartford are true. Baldwin says “no,” that Bettman wants what is good for the NHL, and Baldwin’s mission is to show his friend that Hartford is good for the NHL.
Baldwin is our guest this Sunday on Face the State. Tune in at 11AM.
Incidentally, Whalers gear is all the rage right now. I wore a new Whalers T-shirt to Wrigley Field last year and it got plenty of “hey, where did you get that” types of questions.
My entourage and me at Wrigley, 2009