You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t think our state would be better off with the Hartford Whalers back in town. Ever since former Whalers owner Howard Baldwin returned to the local scene, there has been plenty of talk about restoring a major league sports team to Connecticut’s capital city. As the 15th anniversary of the Whalers’ departure approaches, we continue to examine the possibility of restoring the glory days. Can it be done, or is it a pipe dream?
This week on Face the State, we are joined by one of the most knowledgeable guys in the world of hockey, John Buccigross of ESPN. In addition to his duties at the television sports giant, he is also a coach for his son’s hockey team in suburban Hartford, has been spotted at Connecticut Whale games at the XL Center, and he wears Whalers gear. He’d love to see the NHL skate back into Hartford as much any of us, but he is realistic and very educated about the prospect.
I think you’ll find John’s interview very informative. As you’ll see on Sunday, John believes the market here can most certainly support an NHL team, but there won’t be any team without a new arena. Not a retrofitted, renovated XL Center, but a new arena. No new arena, no Whalers return, end of story. “The NHL likes shiny new toys,” John told me during the taping.
We also need a potential team owner with deep pockets. During the interview John laid out what needs to be done to get a team back in Connecticut, and he also disputed the notion that fans must support a minor league team to get back a major league team. “It’s tough when you’ve already had an NHL team,” and he agreed with another assessment that such an argument is a flawed premise.
Tune in this Sunday morning at 11, for the complete chat with ESPN’s John Buccigross, on Face the State, only on Channel 3.