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.
With their season on the line on Friday night the Philadelphia Flyers are making a change in goal.
Michal Neuvirth, who has played just 59 minutes of NHL hockey since Feb. 18, will get the Game 5 start in goal when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Neuvirth replaced Brian Elliott in Philadelphia’s Game 4 loss on Wednesday night after Elliott gave up three goals on 17 shots, the second time he was benched in the first four games. The Flyers have already used three goalies in this series with Elliott, Neuvirth, and Petr Mrazek all getting playing time. None of them have played well.
Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers, William Karlsson of the Vegas Golden Knights, and Ryan O’Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres have been named as the three finalists for the 2018 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, the NHL announced on Friday. The award, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, is given “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
The winner will be announced during the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas on June 20.
The Case for Aleksander Barkov: The Panthers center certainly has the “high standard of playing ability” part down with a season that saw him lead the team with 78 points and finish tied for third in goals with 27. Barkov played the fifth-most minutes (1,743:32) among NHL forwards and only picked up seven minor penalties. This is the second time he’s been named a finalist in the last three seasons.
The Case for William Karlsson: Karlsson had a monster of a season with 43 goals and 78 points during the Golden Knights’ historic first year. In playing 1,534:47, the 25-year-old forward racked up only 12 PIMs. Should Karlsson win, he would become the first player to win an end-of-season trophy for a team in its inaugural season since Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers won the Byng and Hart Trophy and in 1979-80.
The Case for Ryan O'Reilly: O’Reilly missed one game this season and logged 1,686:10 of ice time for the Sabres. He recorded only one penalty all season, way back on Oct. 24 versus Detroit, a slashing call. His one penalty is the fewest among NHL players who suited up for at least 41 games this season. He’s a previous winner having taken home the trophy in 2014 while a member of the Colorado Avalanche.