The Hartford Whalers are (were?) an NHL hockey team based in the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford,CT. Despite years of bad performance, players who didn't want to play here, and other obsticals, the fans loved them.
The Whalers were founded in 1972 in Boston, MA, as the New England Whalers of the WHA. The team obviously uses the whale at their mascot, but the name is actually WHAlers, named after the league In their first few years, they proved to be an execlent team, winning 2 divisional titles and 1 championship. They eventualy moved to Springfield, then to the new Civic Center in Hartford, where the fans loved them.
Then disaster stuck. On January 17, 1978, the Civic Center roof fell. The Whale was forced to move back to Springfield until repairs could be done here. To show they were not in a permanent location, the team finished off the 1977-78 season in their road uniforms. When they arrived back, they would not leave permanently until possibly this season.
The mid to late 70's were good years for the Whale. Here they aquired hockey greats such as Gordie Howe, Dave Keon, and Rick Ley. They beat the dreaded Central Red Army, from the Soviet Union.
In the late 70's the WHA came upon hard times. Teams began to fold, and the collapse of the league was certain. So that some of the teams would not die, a merger between the WHA and the NHL took place. The final 6 teams were: The New England Whalers, The Cinncinati Stingers, The Winnipeg Jets, The Quebec Nordiques, The Edmonton Oilers, and The Birmingham Bulls. The Stingers and the Bulls both folded, while the other four went on to join the NHL. The New England Whalers became the Hartford Whalers.
While some teams like the Jets suffered in the entry draft, where existing teams stripped the WHA ones of good players, Hartford did OK. We aquired great players such as Mark Howe, and in 1986-87 they won the Adams (Northeast) division championship.
Dark times were to come, however. A man named Richard Gordon and a company named Colonial Realaty bought the team. (Colonial sold out shortly.) The Gordon Years were terrible times, with playoff attendance reaching only 6,000, and many players getting traded away. The man responsible for the trades is named Eddie Johnson, or EJ. He traded away great players such as Ron Francis, the captain, Kevin Dineen, Scott Young, amd Ulf Samulson. The majority of the players went to Pittsburg, and here in Hartford we still find it strange that EJ was, until recently, the coach of that team. EJ was eventually fired, and Gordon finaly sold the team.
The govenor of CT, a man too sinister to mention his name, sold the team to a man named Peter Karmanos. The deal was shady, another person offered more but was turned down, and now the evil govenor is a member of Karmanos's company's executive board.
The first Karmanos years were good. The team began to rebuild, and the coach, a man named Paul Holmgren, was replaced by the now youngest coach ever, Paul Maurice. Maurice was, and still is a good coach. He brought players to the team, and made us proud of our team once more.
The 1995-96 season ended with Karmanos announcing that he would move the team unless the fans bought tickets. This was troubling due to Quebec, which moved a year earlier to Denver, CO and Winnipeg moving that season to Phoenix, AZ. It seemed the WHA teams were doomed.
A lot of tickets were sold that year, but not enough. Karmanos was going to leave, but seemed to have forgot that he signed a contract that he would stay for four years. The state kept him here, and the stage was set for the disaster this season.
The year started out with a suprise. Former captain Brendan Shannahan announced he wanted a trade. After much pain, he was sent to Detroit for Keith Primeau and Paul Coffey. Stu "The Reaper" Grimson was also aquired in this trade.
Now everything seemed to be going great. Former Whaler Kevin Dineen was brought back and made captain. Keith Primeau loved it here and played his heart out. Stu Grimson beat up everyone in sight. It was great. To top it all off, we were on top of the Northeast Division. However, Paul Coffey, the key to our power play, wanted out.
Coffey was a great player, but he was also a jerk. We didn't need his crap, so we traded him to Philidelphia for Kevin Haller. Haller is a good solid player, and a key defensman. (Coffey was welcomed to Philly with a concussion accidently given to him by fellow jerk Eric Lindros. Justice is sweet.
Now disaster struck. Hartford's star goalie, Sean Burke disloacated his thumb. Despite a good performance by backup goalie Jason Muzatti, the team suffered and went on a losing streak. I do not blame this on Muzatti, I blame it on the team. It seemed that the team would not rally around him.
After several trades, and Burkes return, the team came back strong. But it was too late. After a loss to New York, the only way the Whalers had a shot at the playoffs was if Ottawa lost. They won. To make matters worse, after several weeks of negotiations, Karmanos announced the team was leaving. The last game was to be April 13, 1997, against Tampa Bay.
Great seats, huh
For the game, the booster club added the following words to the ice. "Hartford Whalers, 1975-1997. Thanks for the memories. There were a few memories left however. Jason Muzatti got in a fight, not wanting to be remembered for doing nothing on the last day. The "whaler song" aka the Brass Bonanza was played the whole way through for the first time in five years. The last Whaler goal was by captain Kevin Dineen. After the game a video was shown which covered the glory years of the whalers, and the team itself threw its equipment into the stands. It seemed the end had come.
My favorite Whalers
1.)Mike Liut. I met him as a kid. He was a good goalie and a good guy.
2.)Kevin Dineen. He should have been captain a long time ago. He was a great player, and he loved it here.
3.)Steve Chiasson. He was only here for a little while but he cried the day the team said it was to leave.
On the 6th of May, a press conference was held in North Carolina. The Whalers will move there and become the Carolina Hurricanes.
Best wishes to the players, the Benetaus, Paul Maurice, Skip Cunningham, Mike Veisor, the UCONN Childrens Cancer Fund, The Junior Whalers, the Hartford Police Street Hockey team and all the people in Hartford who now need jobs. Peter Karmanos: I hope you get screwed.
AN OPEN LETTER TO NORTH CAROLINA: You all need to know this. Peter Karmanos is a ****head who could care less about you. All he cares about is his own stupid ego.
He left Hartford pissed because Rowland wouldn't take all the risks of his team and declared that the team was gone. The only reason that he is in North Carolina is that St. Paul, Columbus, Atlanta, Houston, Las Vegas and Nashville all turned him down. You are simply more fans to exploit in his eyes, a mere stepping stone to a bigger market.
Don't be fooled by him! The Whale will have moved on in about five years from now.
Is the NHL trying to screw small market teams? YES! The four smallest markets were: Hartford, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Quebec. If there is anybody left counting,
all of those but Edmonton are dead. For those of you that havent heard now the Oilers are up for sale. This reflects the trend of small market teams leaving, but it also shows the demise of Canadian teams, WHICH SUCKS!!! Lets hope the Oilers have better luck that we all did.
YEAH! JUST IN! HOURS BEFORE THE DEADLINE, EDMONTON RAISED ENOUGH MONEY TO KEEP THEIR TEAM!!!! IT TOOK A LOT OF PRAYERS, AND A LOT OF CASH, BUT ITS AN INSPIRATION FOR HOCKEY FANS EVERYWHERE. THIS IS GOOD!!!!!!!
This Page is not going anywhere!!!!!!!
SEND ME YOUR CRAP HURRICANES FANS TDowd@geocities.com!
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