Wolf Pack Help Hartford Celebrate 25 years Of Hockey!
The evening was a celebration of 25 years of Hartford hockey, with guests of honor (in person and in video messages) spanning the quarter-century since the New England Whalers came to Connecticut in 1975. Banners commemorating the 1974-75 Eastern Division championship and 1986-87 Adams Division crown were returned to the rafters, as were the three retired numbers of Gordie Howe, Rick Ley, and John McKenzie.
All but Gordie Howe`s #9 were re-issued to Carolina Hurricanes players by Peter Karmanos in an effort to distance himself from the stormy relationship of Hartford, it`s Whalers and his relocated Carolina Hurricanes. More than 10,000 fans packed the aging Hartford Civic Center, many Whaler and Ranger fans alike joined in the celebration. There is talk of a Connecticut/New England Hockey Hall of Fame/Museum perhaps being as part of the new Adriens Landing Re-Development project.
Hartford, the home of the Calder Champion Wolf Pack has received only luke warm reception by the community and new GM Al Coates hopes this will help the healing. Although not NHL quality the Pack offers hockey in the states capital and hopefully for the good people of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts… a new arena and NHL hockey will find itself in the vacant lot at the Adriens Landing Site.
Although the Whalers were viewed as the little bothersome brother of the Rangers and Boston Bruins… many hardcore faithful packed the arena…the Whalers became the Green Bay Packers of the NHL and due to modern day sports economics or as I like to coin them “Bettmanomics” the team was moved to the fast growing (then) Carolina Region and has received even less reception than that of the Wolf Pack, struggling at the gate and on the ice.
The Whalers were one of the Rangers nemesis in their history with the Rangers posting a losing record to Hartford in Hartford. Current former Whalers in the NHL include: Ron Francis, Kevin Dineen, Patrick Poulin, Sean Burke, Geoff Sanderson, and Chris Pronger among others… not bad for a little brother… there are many more names that can be added… For this fan of hockey… I hope the “Brass Bonanza” is played again and the NHL Whalers return to their home… in Hartford!