The Stanley Cup brings up all sorts of feelings for Connecticut hockey fans. Many are rooting on the Boston Bruins this week, while at the same time wishing our team was still around.
In this Sunday’s Face the State flashback, we took you back you back to an exciting day in Connecticut history. On March 30, 1979, the National Hockey League announced it would expand, and the city of Hartford was being awarded a team that would play against the legendary Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens and 17 other teams.
That expansion team was the New England Whalers, who were then part of the struggling World Hockey Association. As part of admission to the elite club, the Whalers had to drop New England from their name, and become the Hartford Whalers. The rest is history.
The clip you’ll see was reported by then sports director Dave Smith, and it shows NHL president John Ziegler making the announcement that led to euphoria in the land of steady habits. The video also has reaction from then Whalers owner Howard Baldwin.
Not that my opinion necessarily means anything, but I’ve been asked by many viewers and fans what I think of the minor league team changing its name from the Connecticut Whale back to the Hartford Wolfpack. Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs said it better than I could. Read his take right here: http://articles.courant.com/2013-04-30/sports/hc-jacobs-column-0501-20130430_1_howard-baldwin-connecticut-whale-msg I agree with Jeff. It makes no sense.
Hartford Whalers fans are a loyal bunch, and we still proudly wear the green and blue. Even at Whale games, some fans would wear their vintage Whalers gear because the colors match. It also allowed them to hold onto hope that the NHL will someday award a team to the largest media market in the nation without a major league sports team. I love wearing a Whalers shirt or hat in other cities and I always get comments on it from California to Chicago.
I grew up in Boston, and you won’t see me in the New York Rangers colors featured on Wolfpack clothing. In a state so divided by Boston and New York loyalties, it is unfair to ask those with leanings to Beantown to support the team from the Big Apple. This isn’t Boston, and it isn’t New York. It is Hartford, and a team in Hartford should reflect that.
Watch and read these other Whalers stories
Adam Sandler wearing Whalers
Former Whalers owner Richard Gordon
Megan Fox wearing Whalers
Jason Bay wearing Whalers
Brian Cashman wearing Whalers
Whalers Fans in Chicago
ESPN’s John Buccigross on Whalers
Whalers gear at Bradley Airport
in Rhode Island, too