“Hartford Whalers merchandise is the hottest selling merchandise in the NHL.”
If I asked you about what year that headline came from, you’d probably guess sometime in the early 1990s and feel pretty confident about it. How about if I told you it came from 2010? Turns out, the team with the most stuff flying off the shelves at sports merchandise retailer Mitchell & Ness is a team that hasn’t been around since 1997.
And yet, all these years later, newly made Whalers jerseys, T-shirts and caps are among the hottest sellers of all NHL teams.
“It’s been one of the top lines, and it’s not just Connecticut,” said Marc D’Amelio, an East Coast sales representative for Mitchell & Ness, a major vendor of Whalers T-shirts, jackets and caps. “Nationally, it’s in the top five, no problem.”
The Whalers can’t touch the champion Chicago Black Hawks this year, but the distinctive blue, green and white merchandise could easily tie with the Detroit Redwings, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, D’Amelio said.
Last weekend saw the Whalers Fan Fest in Connecticut bring to light the still raging popularity of the defunct franchise now calling Raleigh, North Carolina home as the Hurricanes. The Fan Fest brought 4,500 fans out to meet up with Whalers greats from the past and collect autographs from the likes of Kevin Dineen and Ron Francis. If you think that this is just a phase where the resurgence of the Whalers logo will come and go, you might want to think again.
Recently, the Whaler logo has gotten some high profile exposure, too. Adam Sandler wore a Whalers T-shirt in the film “Grown Ups.” The NHL also approved the use of the logo in a video game, and, according to Ihor Stelmach, the Westfarms store’s general manager, the rapper 50 Cent wore a Whalers shirt at a concert last year and threw some team shirts into the crowd.
If we can’t get the Whale back on the ice, then getting them back on our backs, fronts, heads and video games is a pretty sweet and stylish back-up plan. Now if we could just get Lady Gaga to release the Whalers goal song “Brass Bonanza” mash-up to the world, the Whalers hostile takeover of the world will be in full effect.