Baldwin: Winnipeg is Role Model for Hartford

There is reason to have enthusiasm, albeit tempered, about the return of the NHL to Hartford.    The city of Winnipeg, Manitoba is still celebrating their big news this week:   major league hockey is returning to town,  15 years after their beloved Jets bolted for Phoenix.    Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

This Sunday on Face the State, former Hartford Whalers owner Howard Baldwin talks about what it will take to replicate what happened in the Great White North, in our capital city.    Baldwin said a good foundation was built this year with the Connecticut Whale and the Whale Bowl, but much work still needs to be done.   

Baldwin told me the NHL is taking notice of the renewed enthusiasm in Connecticut for hockey, and called Hartford a great market for an NHL team.   He also said NHL suits were impressed by the Nielsen television ratings in Hartford  for game one of the Stanley Cup:   5th highest in the nation. 

Tune in this Sunday at 11AM for more from Baldwin on this exciting prospect.  Channel 3 sports director Joe Zone is also on hand to question Baldwin.

16 replies »

  1. When will these people give it up. The Whalers are gone!!! Hartford can barely support a minor league team.


    • I agree with you MJ. That’s what these people don’t get. They are so gun-ho about the NHL coming back to the state but it’s never gonna happen. They all came the first night they switched the team name to the whale and tried to kick all the wolfpack fans out of the xl center like they owned the place and the next day they barely showed up to the game. That’s why the NHL is not coming back to the city of Hartford or the state. No one will support it. Like u said Hartford can barely support a minor league team.


  2. It might be more to Hartford’s interests if the focus was on building up the team we do have before pursuing a team that isn’t there yet. Gary Bettman has said numerous times that he and the league is not interested in expanding or relocating franchises unless absolutely unavoidable.

    I think the AHL is a perfect fit for Hartford and if the team is built up as the best AHL team in New England to rival Providence, Springfield, and Bridgeport, we will be in good company and remain very competitive and marketable.

    I think the NHL, while an attractive dream, is not a feasible reality right now and the current economy would be a major obstacle to drawing fans to NHL priced tickets and ameneties and season tickets.

    If you give fans an affordable option like $10-20 tickets to a winning team and create a family friendly atmosphere, you will pack the place again. The Wolf Pack / Whale has 14 years of great hockey and great history in CT. Let’s not ignore it or look down upon it or reduce it to “just a minor team”. It is “OUR” team. Whalers are a great part of our state’s sports history, but is the NHL a reliable prospect for this city or will it be best to be a hallmark AHL city instead?

    I vote AHL.


  3. NHL is beginning to crack in the South and Southwest for a lack of fan base or relative interest. Meanwhile our AHL team jumped up 1,500 people per game this season, higher than the last 4 or 5 seasons. That is atop of setting the new record for most attendees for an AHL game. The NHL is making its way back North!


  4. Hartford is the Green Bay of the NHL. It’ll unite our state which, if I recall correctly, is the highest populated state without a professional major sports team.

    A new arena is ideal, but we need to generate interest first. It’s really not impossible, just look at how big UConn football has gotten within the past 5 years. If we just turn hockey into an event, people will go.


    • Actually. Virginia (pop 8M) has no major legue team playing within its boundaries. And Alabama, So. Carolina & Kentucky do not have major league sports and are larger than CT. As for metro areas, Hampton Roads, VA, Las Vegas & Austin are all larger than Hartford and have no major league sports.


      • Major league teams often look at the size of the television markets when considering locations of teams because television revenue is generally higher the bigger the market. A good portion of Virginia is in the Washington D.C. market. The Hartford TV market is the 30th biggest in the nation, larger than Las Vegas, Austin and Norfolk, VA. 7 of the 8 counties in Connecticut are in the market; Fairfield County is in the New York television market. Hartford is the biggest television market without a major league team.


  5. We are going to let predators out of the street due to lack of funds but find $$ for an NHL class arena? This why we had the biggest tax hike in CT history? I’m not subsidizing “Brass Bonanza”…folks who want tax $ for hockey have brass…..(need I finish?)


  6. I agree with the first 3 comments. All of you are right. I can afford the AHL and the level of play is very good.Its a good compromise to the NHL. I could never support the NHL. 7 doller tickets in the AHL become 35 dollers in the NHL.

    I cant afford that.

    Also no one wants to come to hartford beacuse of Location. 2 hours north is Boston 2 hours south is new york.

    Hartford is an AHL town(but thats not a bad thing)

    also notice all the people baldwin has been going after..the ones who never supported the Wolf pack..there not fans..there bandwagoners.

    Baldwin your good at producing movies but hockey is different


  7. Having Howard bring back the whale is HUGE!

    Now it’s time for the city of Hartford to spend some money and bring back the city. Bettman will never give us a team if the City remains in the condition it is currently. Back in the late 70’s and 80’s it was a thriving town. Look at it now… It’s a DUMP!

    Next, build a new coliseum. The Civic Center looks like a graveyard with its dark concrete look and poor foundation for ANY sports venue is apauling. It’s like the people of Connecticut which we know isn’t true.

    As far as pro sports goes, you need a good foundation. ” If you build it they will come” we did back in 1975.


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