Return of the Hartford Whalers… Sort of

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hartfordwhalerssign.jpgLike a long dead television franchise or a band that broke up long ago that is looking to cash more checks, the Hartford Whalers will rise again. Before you get too excited and dust off that green Kevin Dineen jersey with “Pucky” the Whale on the shoulders, let’s just stress that this isn’t about the NHL coming back to Hartford.

I know, I know… It’s heartbreaking. Still, former Whalers owner Howard Baldwin in his efforts to bring professional hockey back to central Connecticut has scored a victory for the city of Hartford in his own curious kind of way.

Thirteen years after the NHL Whalers departed for North Carolina, the AHL Wolf Pack will be rebranded as the Connecticut Whale. Howard Baldwin, the founding father of the Whalers, announced Monday afternoon his Hartford Hockey LLC will take over marketing and sales operations of the Wolf Pack.

Early reports indicated the team would be renamed the Connecticut Whalers. But Baldwin’s group decided on “Whale” for a variety of seasons, including feedback from fans of the Wolf Pack and Whalers.

“I kind of like the idea,” said Al Victor, president of the Whalers Booster Club. “I was kind of put back because I always felt the Whalers name should be saved for the NHL. I like the idea of not going with the Whalers and saving it for the NHL. And they are paying tribute to the Whale with this name. This is a good compromise … we always called them the Whale.”

Said Baldwin: “For as long as the team has been in existence, people have affectionately referred to the team as ‘The Whale.’ ”

The Connecticut Whale doesn’t have the same ring to it as the Hartford Whalers did and that’s fitting since this is just a painted up new version of the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack. Trying to cash in on the nostalgia of the Whalers is something folks have gotten to be really good at in recent years, but making an honest effort to rekindle the love that many folks in New England had for hockey and the Whalers is truly a beautiful thing to see.

The logo won’t be the same, the brand of hockey won’t be the same, and the XL Center isn’t as goofy fun as it was when it was the Hartford Civic Center and you had to enter the arena by cutting through a shopping mall but if it’s something that makes the people in Hartford and the rest of Connecticut care for a team again, then that’s just perfect.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

Carey Price
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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)

Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.

Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby


Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.

That apparently won’t happen regarding Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.

Dubinsky told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.

“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”

In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.

One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.

Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?

Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).

Bad news for Boedker: Coyotes won’t face Sens again in 2015-16


Sorry Mikkel Boedker, you won’t get to face the Ottawa Senators again this season.

OK, it could happen if the speedster is traded from the Arizona Coyotes. He could also face the Senators in the unlikely instance that the two teams fight it out in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Beyond those two possibilities, Saturday night was it, and Boedker must have been licking his chops much like an actual coyote.

For the second straight game, Boedker managed a hat trick against the Senators, helping Arizona beat Ottawa 4-3 last night. His third tally stood as the game-winner in a 4-3 victory.

You can watch all three goals in the video above.

It’s oddly fitting that Boedker has three goals this season … against teams not named the Ottawa Senators.