Blog Entry

NHL Relocations = BRING BACK THE WHALERS!!!

Posted on: May 5, 2009 11:55 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2009 7:59 am
 
The Pheonix Coyotes team has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and a has recieved a bid from BlackBerry CEO to purchase the team. Details from CBSSports here. This is just another time for me to bring up my favorite argument in all of sports...

BRING BACK THE WHALERS!!!

That's right, the Hartford Whalers need to be reintorduced to the NHL. And this needs to happen soon. For those of you who aren't up on your hockey history, let me explain. A little over a decade ago in 1994, some sleazy, scumbag businessman named Peter Karmanos purchased the Hartford Whalers. Fed up with mediocre attendence, lack of corporate sponsors and a relic of an arena, Karmanos attempted to work out a deal for a new stadium with the state of Connecticut. When that failed, coupled with a failure to sellout all the season ticket packages (which were only available in full-season, no mini-plans, to increase coprorate buyers and deter the average fan), Karmanos moved the team to Raleigh, NC and changed the team to the Carolina Hurricanes.

For the record (and I've made this point before), the NHL is dead to me. It will always be dead to me until Peter Karmanos and Gary Bettman are retired, and the Whalers are back in Hartford. And if you think I'm overreacting a little bit, ask Seattle Sonic fans how they feel right now. It's the same situation, just a different sport and city. And it's going to hurt just the same 12 years down the road, I guarantee it. But, back the main point.

There is a myriad of reasons why the Whalers moved. They are in between the two biggest markets on the east coast, New York and Boston. They did lack corporate sponsors and TV deals. Their new decrepit owner wanted out of Hartford. He shuffled season ticket plans to deter average fans from buying them, but attendence still rose. Because within the city of Hartford, and the state of Connecticut, they had the one of the greatest fan bases in all of sports, not just the NHL. They have the Brass Bonanza, the greatest theme song in the NHL. They have Glen Wesley and Ron Francis among the many great players in franchise history. If attendence was a major factor in the teams move, take a look at this website.

The Whalers had growing attendence it's final 5 years in Hartford, from 1992-1997. The attendence numbers for the first 4 years in Carolina, from 1997- 2001, didn't even reach the numbers of the last regular season in Hartford. It's not until the Hurricanes' 2002 Stanley Cup run that attendence surpasses Hartford's numbers. And Karmanos left Hartford and and 12,000 diehard fans for 9,000 corporate slugheads (no offense to the real, blue-collar Carolina fans, I don't hate you. Just don't wear a Hurricanes hat in the state of Connecticut, it's for your own good).

So I ask you Gary Bettman, Chief Bonehead of the NHL, to reconsider Hartford, CT for an NHL franchise. Pheonix is folding, the Islanders owner regrets purchasing the team, Columbus, Atlanta, Nashville and Florida could be moved as well. No offense to those franchises and cities, but aside from Columbus, you can't defend the warm-weather location of your hockey teams. And the state of Florida doesn't deserve two-teams, sorry.

Take a look at the NHL Teams Map. Look at where all of the teams are located. The entire Eastern Conference is located in the Eastern Time Zone, and the Western Confernce takes everything else. I'm not knocking the rest of the country, but over one third of all the teams in the NHL are located in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region. If the NHL wants to relocate to Canada, that's fine with me, it's their sport and they should have more teams in my opinion. But do you really think that a franchise is going to be successful in Kansas City or San Francisco? Really? I don't buy it, not for a second. Seattle? Utah? Milwaukee? I can buy those areas. That's hockey country. It's cold, there's an actual winter. KC and the Bay Area in California are only possible locations for NHL teams because they have other successful sports franchises and the NHL is hoping that those existing fans can support the new team.

Pheonix lasted 13 years in Arizona after relocating from Winnipeg in 1996. The Whalers have been away from Hartford for 12 years. Let's face it, if it weren't for the University of Connecticut Huskies, those 12 years would be some of the darkest in the history of Connecticut sports. The state doesn't boast any top level pro teams in the four major sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL). The WNBA's Connecticut Sun is the only true top teir professional team in the state. It does boast several minor and independent baseball teams and also has two AHL teams in Bridgeport (NYI) and Hartford (NYR). But aside from the occasional, NE Revs or US soccer game in Hartford, that's really it for Connecticut pro sports.

The state has been starved for too long in my opinion. We've ridden the UConn teams long enough. It's time to give Connecticut an pro team again. Connecticut has had enough bad news when it comes to professional sports. The Patriots almost came to Hartford in 1999, but that deal was also nixed by Patriots owner Robert Kraft. It's time to give the sports fans in Connecticut some good news, and the best news you could give my state would be to bring back the Hartford Whalers.

I understand, that this probably won't happen for a few years. I'm not asking for the Whalers to return next season, because that's not a reasonable request and I'm a rational fan, I understand how the relocation process works. It takes time to organize a plan between the teams and state/local governments. But somewhere down the road, in the near future I hope, an NHL team/franchise/owner, will take a shot a revitalizing the Hartford Whalers.

I guarantee it will not be a mistake.

- Eagle
Category: NHL
Comments

Since: Apr 2, 2008
Posted on: September 30, 2009 3:49 pm
 

NHL Relocations = BRING BACK THE WHALERS!!!

I was born and raised in Bristol,CT (Home of ESPN), still live here as well,  and was in the youth system for the Hartford Whalers in the mid 90's. Theres not a single person in Connecticut who wouldn't jump ship from whatever team they supported back to the Whalers. We have NEVER had a professional team in our state besides our beloved Whale and no our WNBA team doesn't count. We are in need of a new arena and if the Whalers did come back I guarentee every single game would be sold out. Alot of us hockey fans have gone into exile since the Whalers left town and only the Whale can bring us back into the sport.



Since: Jul 12, 2008
Posted on: May 7, 2009 10:50 pm
 

NHL Relocations = BRING BACK THE WHALERS!!!

I know people who in CT who now like a different team would root for the Whalers in a heartbeat if they ever came back. I know I would, I'am now a Bruins fan and cannot stand the Hurricanes and Karmanass I hope he has a slow and painful death.



Since: Aug 20, 2008
Posted on: May 6, 2009 2:56 pm
 

NHL Relocations = BRING BACK THE WHALERS!!!

I agree 100% the Whalers had the most loyal fans and with good leadership, who knows?



Since: Mar 13, 2008
Posted on: May 6, 2009 10:55 am
 

NHL Relocations = BRING BACK THE WHALERS!!!

Great blog, haha. I completely understand what your saying. It sucks for those fans in florida, georgia and arizona who acutally follow and root for those teams, but if the seats aren't selling and neither are jersey, it might be time to go. Further north would be great, like you said it is hockey country.

As far as the Whalers being moved, i was down in Carolina from 97-2003, right in the first 5 years of the Hurricanes and people went nuts. you wouldnt know the amount of corps. involved with the canes by standing in the parkinglots before the games. In my opinion, it boosted the areas economy and the overall well being.

I now live IN connecticut, and wear my hurricanes gear. Usually i get alot of props, and i have numerous friends here who converted to Hurricanes fans just due to their hatred of the Bruins or Rangers.

The only reason why i feel they will hesitate to bring back the Whalers to Hartford, is because of a you stated. Most of the entire Northeast, and all of connecticut has not nessicarily moved on, but now alot of the state is either bruin or ranger fans...with a spotty devil or islander fan here and there. Im not sure if they will be able to fill a +12,000 seat stadium for games. its sad when you have such a high population of well off residents in many suburbs of CT and they wouldnt want to attend more games. but i dont count they the wouldnt. always surprises me the amount of Whaler fans show up to Hurricane v Bruins games. I went this december and they had a whole half a section filled. If the do bring the Whalers back, then good for the fans, connecticut is dying from no pro sports.




The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com