To say that the defunct Hartford Whalers franchise still has something of a cult following is, I think, fairly reasonable. So when people see remnants of the team (since moved to Carolina as the Hurricanes) and its distinct logo, the nostalgia comes rushing back. On occasion, a lot of wishful thinking joins that nostalgia.
Unfortunately, despite former owner Howard Baldwin’s use of a Whalers-like logo to promote an outdoor rink – and all the assumptions and excitement that can come from such a move – NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly dismissed the probability of the team’s return. James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail shares Daly’s thoughts on the subject.
“I haven’t given a lot of thought on the Hartford front, but I guess what I would say is I’m not sure we’re aware of any potential ownership groups that want to own a team in Hartford. I know there continues to be a passionate fan base in Hartford — I do hear from them on occasion. Ultimately, some of the reasons we left Hartford still exist: They don’t have a state of the art building and you need to have an owner who’s willing to own a club in the market.
“The club did well in Hartford given the circumstances and ultimately those circumstances conspired to make it not viable there and I don’t know if that’s changed.”
It’s hard not to love scrappy little markets such as Hartford, Winnipeg and Buffalo, but there’s no doubt that they often fight uphill battles in big-money pro leagues. Especially when they don’t have “state of the art” facilities like Daly mentioned. The Penguins were very lucky that Crosby and Malkin helped make their team one of the hottest tickets in the NHL or the soon to open Consol Energy Center – a probable profit machine – may not have been built.
Still, despite the sobering lameness of reality, it would no doubt be gorgeous to see those silly/awesome jerseys and “The Whale” ride high again. Even though, um, they rarely rode high in the standings.