My life and family

Bringing Back Your Hartford Whalers

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

21 replies »

  1. This is great news, Dennis. If anyone can bring the NHL back to Hartford, it’s Howard. I will fully support his AHL Whalers team with that end vision in mind.


  2. Thanks for covering this, Dennis. We need to make this happen and get the Whale back! If Howard Baldwin is serious about this I am all for it. I see people all over the state in their Whalers gear these days and its fantastic.


  3. I’ve had the same experience every time I wear any of my Whalers gear – for reasons I cannot fully understand, people just seem to have a very positive and nostalgic reaction, no matter where I am.

    What always just KILLED me about their leaving was the fact they were drawing 10,000+ fans for a team that had not made the playoffs in years and that no real effort was being made to build a better team. So Karmanos claims he doesn’t want to “compete with UConn basketball”… and then he moves to the part of the country with the largest concentration of college basketball obsession. Unreal.


  4. 13 years later and the Whaler’s still have a strong following. Wake up Bettman!!!!!! The NHL belongs in Hartford! !!!!BRING BACK THE WHALE!!!!!!!!!


  5. I can’t say enough about the joy I felt when I (by chance) turned on you show this morning and Howard (The Man) Baldwin was on talking about bringing back the Whale. This man understands what it takes to build and own an NHL team. Starting as a minor league team makes sense…as long as they are the WHALERS! He talked about the television and a regional sports network…much needed. He talked about a new arena or retrofitting until a new one can be agreed upon, and this is a must. Howard…we’re behind you!!!


  6. I give Mr. Baldwin credit for his interest in Hartford and his part in the Whalers franchise but I think everybody needs to know up front exactly how much state money would be involved in this deal. The state is in dire financial straits and is projected to be for at least the next two years or so.We simply can’t afford to have millions going into speculative projects like this no matter how creative the financing(in which the state legislature seems to excel).I’m sure Mr.Baldwin is sincere as are his partners but,barring 80%+ investor involvement check back in a couple years ok?


  7. Only if no public money is used. It’s a speculative buisness,let the private investors put up the $500 million to build a new arena and get a new team. The state should have learned this lesson years ago.


  8. Arenas should be publicly financed because the cities and state reap the rewards. The new arena in downtown Washington, DC has spurred millions of dollars in development around it. A city like Hartford has to take the lead because no provate company will do it.

    Opinions like Rob’s are penny wise and dollar foolish.


  9. The Whale is needed to bring people into downtown on weekends and keep them there on weeknights. When UConn is playing downtown the area thrives. On other nights the exodus to the suburbs can make it very quiet; even desolate. People on the streets would make the area hum. Empty retail space would fill and more restaurants and bars would open. Heck we may even see a grocery store pop up! It would be great to see the Whale back!!!


  10. Cities and states reap some benefits, but teams reap a lot of benefits too. The most sensible thing is for them to split the costs down the middle: government pays 50%, team pays 50%.


  11. Harttford is vacant when Uconn is not playing. I had the opportunity to work for the Whalers in 86 -87 when we won the Adams Division. The city and state all were pulling for OUR Whalers. I believe Mr. Baldwin can make a difference but with all of our help. We all need to Believe and continue to BLEED GREEN !!!


  12. Hartford is a great city to support an NHL team! Please every old and new Whalers fan let your voices be heard and wear your Whalers gear. Let’s show the NHL Connecticut is serious about bringing back the Whalers!


  13. As a 20 game ticket holders for 12 years with the Whalers, I hope, if we do get a team back in Hartford, the following doesn’t happen AGAIN:

    1) Fans standing near the vending area watching UCONN on TV instead of the Whalers.
    2) Crowds of 4000 because it’s a Wednesday night.
    3) Fans leaving with 3 minutes left with the Whalers down 3-2 to beat traffic.
    It was embarrassing!!


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