Governor Malloy lets Whaler fans break the news of pitch to move Hurricanes

By Peter Hindle
Feb. 10, 2018

Malloy has his critics, he has not been the most popular Governor in Connecticut, but he sure knows what is best for the state of Connecticut when it comes to hockey. The Governor made a second pitch to an NHL team within a year. First it was the Islanders, this time it was the former Whalers themselves under new ownership.

In a letter to the new Carolina Hurricanes owner, Tom Dundon, Malloy mentions that if the team uses the Hartford Whalers logo they need to do it in Connecticut, and oh yea how about at a Winter Classic at Rentschler Field. In addition Malloy asks that the Hurricanes check out the new XL Center ice sheet by holding a regular season game there. Malloy points out the viability of the Hartford/Connecticut market, the average household income and the amount of fans.

Make no mistake no matter how serious you take Malloy's pitch the Hartford Whalers logo morally, ethically and possibly legally belongs to the citizens of Connecticut. Especially to the Whaler fans who kept it alive for a horses age. Every Whaler fan that didn't give up when some ill informed fool said: "never happening" is little victory is for you guys. No matter how big or small a fan you are if you were a Whaler fan keeping the faith, you won today and big.

Even if the NHL never returns the entire nation is well aware of the veracity, tenacity and the down right stubbornness of the Hartford Whalers fan base. This pitch to the Hurricanes may result in the same outcome as the pitch to the Islanders but other owners will take notice, remember Arizona has no place to play after next season. I don't know anyone with a reasonable argument as to Hartford being a top flight choice for an NHL relocation, but the stats and facts also say that the Hartford market would be far more profitable and loyal then a sprain thumbed handful of teams that are currently floundering in the NHL.

Malloy lays out the facts in his letter to Dundon and to be honest Dundon would be insane not to consider the lucrative potential of this deal. He has to realize that Hartford is in the center of the Knowledge Corridor, it is the largest media market without a professional team and that the fan base is more loyal than the base he has the team in right now. Even a couple exhibition matchups with Whaler jerseys are guaranteed sellouts for the XL Center.

Raleigh as an NHL market finished second to last in NHL attendance three seasons ago and they spent the last two seasons dead last. Even the Whalers, who played in an NHL league with less teams, never finished last or second to last. The entire time the Whalers were here the XL Center(Veterans Memorial Coliseum) sold an average of 78% of the building, that includes the year when they were 4th in the league in percentage of their building sold(1987). It includes when they were down at the bottom during a couple of seasons during the mid nineties too, but their last season in the XL Center the building was 90% sold. The XL Center had its ups and downs like any city USA but there are plenty of times when the building was rocking, in the 80's the Whalers attracted over 600 thousand people to the XL Center for 41 nights. That is a number that dwarfs all the events at the XL Center this year. Remember the XL Center had more than 50% of the building as season ticket holders when Peter Karmanos left Hartford. The obtuse owner left determined to find greener pastures. In the end there is nothing greener than the Whalers Brigade and its elite die hard Whaler fans.

The state should take every action necessary to entice an NHL team to Hartford. You have to have civic pride to bring people of our state together and the Whalers could help Connecticut shed the yolk of Boston and New York. Bringing back the Whale will go along way to bringing people back to our very own major league city.