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The Whale

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The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Sat Jul 17, 2010 6:27 am

Not certain how much this will interest everyone, but I thought I'd pass along the news that it appears likely that Howard Baldwin, the former Whalers owner, will soon be taking control of the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack and renaming them the Connecticut Whalers.

He's putting on quite a marketing campaign, highlighted by a Whalers reunion and fanfest at UConn's football stadium this August and then a Winter Classic style "Hockey Fest" in February of next year that will most likely be highlighted by the rechristened Whalers playing against the Providence Bruins, bringing back a lot of great memories for a lot of us in the Northeast.

Given the spectacle that was LeDouche and his free agency, it's nice to think that the Green and White are on the verge of taking the ice again, no matter the form. It's nice to be reminded about the good things about sports once in a while. Having witnessed two of my hometown teams moved by the time I was 20, I can say that it might not be 1999 all over again, but it will be pretty special nonetheless having the Whale back if it does come to pass.

Baldwin's Whalers site:

http://whalerssports.com/


And a Hartford Courant article talking about the current situation with the Wolf Pack:

http://www.courant.com/sports/hockey/hc ... 595.column
Last edited by RIBrownsFan on Sat Aug 28, 2010 5:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby swerb » Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:52 am

Thanks for posting RI. Still have fond memories of the Whalers growing up a Caps fan ... and being addicted to the EA Sports NHL Hockey game on my Sega Genesis ... some good Whalers teams on the versions of those games, IIRC led by Kevin Dineen and Sylvain Turgeon.

And those t-shirts in their pro shop are awesome. May have to get me one of those.
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Sun Jul 18, 2010 6:15 am

I'm holding off until I spend way too much money at the Reunion.

I used to joke with my Dad that watching the Whalers was like we had never left Cleveland. Clearly they could've fit into the sports landscape pretty comfortably. And coincidentally, Jack Evans, who coached the Whale during their (ahem) glory days, was the coach of the NHL's Barons back in the 70's.
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:11 am

Drove the hour tonight to Norwich, CT to enjoy "Hartford Whalers Night" at the home of the Detroit Tigers Single A affiliate in Connecticut. Had the pleasure of meeting Howard Baldwin for the first time and spending several hours with members of the Hartford Whalers booster club.

It appears the announcement bringing back the Whale will be at the Fan Fest on Aug. 14th. Saw a lot of Green, Blue, and White in attendance and am fired up for the upcoming AHL season, weekend commute be damned...
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby skatingtripods » Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:53 am

I'd love to see the Whale brought back. There's a few teams that are really hurting. I'd be interested to see what Bettman would do if relocation became critical and Winnipeg and Hartford were the two potential destinations for one team.
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Sat Aug 07, 2010 2:50 pm

Given Bettman's seemingly irrational vendetta with all things Canadian, I'd put my money on Hartford, especially with Baldwin's connections with the movers and shakers in the league.

As it is now, the NHL has signed on to participate in Baldwin's Winter Classic in Hartford next February, allowing Baldwin to use the NHL all-star game jerseys from the 1986 game in Hartford. They're going to have an official presence at the event, which as far as I know is more cooperation than Bettman has ever given to either Winnipeg or Quebec since their moves.

The Whale coming back to the NHL is a long shot, but given Baldwin's history and connections with the league, I would say he's the one man I could see successfully making it happen. I'm certainly going to get behind his Connecticut Whalers and see where he can take it.
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Wed Aug 11, 2010 10:10 pm

Awesome quote from Baldwin today during his chat on the Hartford Courant website, which will now be serving as my sig:

"I feel very strongly that the name Whalers is synonymous with Connecticut hockey. The Cleveland Browns should always be the Cleveland Browns."
"I feel very strongly that the name Whalers is synonymous with Connecticut hockey. The Cleveland Browns should always be the Cleveland Browns."

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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:43 pm

Today's fan fest was awesome. About 30 former Whalers players in attendance signing autographs, the introduction of a new mascot, and more Whalers and hockey memorabilia than I have ever seen gathered in one place. It was a gorgeous day, and over 4700 people at last count made their way to UConn's football stadium. (By contrast, the Hartford Wolf Pack average 4100 people to their AHL games)

All of the players also stayed an additional 2 plus hours to make sure that everyone who wanted one got at least a few autographs. Joel Quenneville was a delight to talk to and very accomodating. The highlight for me was probably a photo with Kevin Dineen, the longtime Whaler and team captain when the team was relocated. I am also now the proud owner of a hot off the presses Connecticut Whalers hat and tee, as well as a 1971-72 Cleveland Barons media guide.

Howard Baldwin definitely has the market energized and starting to believe that there might actually be something to his crazy dreams. Watch out Phoenix...
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby skatingtripods » Sat Aug 14, 2010 11:29 pm

Saw a guy walking down E. 9th to the Indians game with a Kevin Dineen Whalers t-shirt on. I've been seeing it a lot lately. Long live the Whale indeed.
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby Funky Cold Luis Medina » Sat Aug 14, 2010 11:47 pm

Totally taking that quote for my sig at another board. I'm a moderator at a semi-well known hockey site.

Here's to hoping they play this a bit.

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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Sun Aug 15, 2010 1:31 am

Apparently the Whalers ranked 11th in NHL merchandise sales last year, which is incredible considering they haven't played a game in 13 years. I can only imagine as the minor league team begins to be marketed and gain recognition, they will rank even higher in the future.

Rest assured the Brass Bonanza was played frequently during the fan fest. And as it should be, it will apparently be returning as the AHL team's goal song as well.

An amusing aside from today is that four different former players said the words "Gary Bettman is an idiot" as I made my way through the autograph line. Most of them can't believe he continues to hold on to these dying southern franchises for no other apparent reason than his pride.
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:28 pm

BTW, here's the awesome poster they passed out to the first 3000 attendees...It's 36 x 20 and this scan does not do it justice...

Image
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby skatingtripods » Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:24 am

Problem is, gotta wait for a team to be forced in to moving. Might be the Islanders given what I've been reading.
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Mon Aug 16, 2010 6:26 am

It will certainly be interesting to see what happens with the Isles. We'll see if they're able to get in bed with the Mets and make a new building happen. Though to be honest, if we actually did end up with a relocated team, I'd rather it be someone like Phoenix or one of the shitty round hole square peg sun belt teams instead of the Isles, who have a tradition and history in the league. And Long Island is a doable road trip for away games from where I am now in Providence, albeit a bit of a trek.

One thing that is interesting about the Islanders is that when Baldwin first started making noise about bringing an NHL team back to Hartford, some of the New York papers reached out to him to gauge his interest in possibly purchasing the Isles. At that point he said it was premature to even think about, as he was more concerned with gaining control of the Civic Center again and seeing where the market was in terms of getting on board with his vision. In recent days, however, he has responded to similar questions about the Isles by saying that it would be "inappropriate" for him to comment on their possible relocation. Total speculation on my part, but I wonder if this change is due in part to him having started an active dialogue with the NHL league offices again. As I mentioned, that has already paid dividends with the league signing on to participate in his upcoming Winter Classic next year.

And as for waiting for a team to be able to move, ST, I actually think Baldwin would prefer it if it is 2-3 years down the road before anyone was ready to up and move. His plan calls for massive renovations to the Hartford Civic Center to bring it more in line with some of the newer buildings in the league. When relocation becomes a serious option supported by the league office, I think he wants to be in a position where the building has been renovated, his AHL Whalers have been in top 2-3 in attendance for a couple of years, and where his Whalers Winter Classic event has been a several year success, with increased NHL involvement each year I'm sure. If he's able to accomplish all of those things in that time frame, given his history and pull with the league, I do think they will be a leading contender for a team looking for a new home.
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Mon Aug 16, 2010 6:58 am

Brief local TV news clip from Friday about the Fan Fest:

"I feel very strongly that the name Whalers is synonymous with Connecticut hockey. The Cleveland Browns should always be the Cleveland Browns."

-Howard Baldwin
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Mon Aug 16, 2010 7:28 am

...And a news clip from Saturday providing a recap of the event:

http://www.courant.com/videobeta/?watch ... 0b0f7d194f
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby skatingtripods » Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:20 pm

RIBrownsFan wrote:And as for waiting for a team to be able to move, ST, I actually think Baldwin would prefer it if it is 2-3 years down the road before anyone was ready to up and move. His plan calls for massive renovations to the Hartford Civic Center to bring it more in line with some of the newer buildings in the league. When relocation becomes a serious option supported by the league office, I think he wants to be in a position where the building has been renovated, his AHL Whalers have been in top 2-3 in attendance for a couple of years, and where his Whalers Winter Classic event has been a several year success, with increased NHL involvement each year I'm sure. If he's able to accomplish all of those things in that time frame, given his history and pull with the league, I do think they will be a leading contender for a team looking for a new home.


Well, it would likely take 2-3 years for the Isles to wind up moving anyway. I'm not sure how long the lease with Nassau County Coliseum is. It would be a shame to see such a storied organization fall apart because the local government is unwilling to work with Wang.

Getting PHX would be great for the Hartford area, but you know that it would just be right for PHX to return to Winnipeg. It's where they came from and there's a strong campaign out that way to get the Jets back, similar to the Whale one. We just don't see much of the Jets campaign.

I hate the concept that the Whale can only return under somebody losing a franchise. Expansion is completely out of the question at this point.

Who knows, there's a chance that they wind up with the Jackets in a couple years, given their enormous financial troubles with the arena.
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:02 pm

I'm certainly hopeful that Winnipeg gets the Coyotes back. They seem to have all of the pieces in place, including a first rate potential owner in David Thomsen. I am still a bit skeptical of douchebag Bettman's commitment to the market, seeing as how he has seemingly jumped through a million hoops to keep the team playing before nobody in Glendale when Winnipeg is ready and willing to go.

And while I agree that there is widespread support for the Jets in Winnipeg, I'm not sure that the league has done anything with that ownership group other than talk. You are right that we don't get to see much of their campaign, and I certainly hope the league is working with them the way they are apparently starting to work with Baldwin, I just am not aware of the NHL taking any concrete steps in supporting a potential bid as they have with the Winter Classic here. And Winnipeg has been seriously trying to get the Jets revived for a longer period than Hartford.

As for teams getting relocated, unfortunately somebody's going to get fucked over. In a perfect world, Hartford, Winnipeg, and Quebec City would all have teams again by 2020, but I'm not seeing the Avalanche move so Quebec would have to take someone else's team. I am of course constantly praying to Jobu that the Hurricanes crash and burn, but it would seem Hartford may have to take somebody's team too.

And depending on who the team is, I am just fine with that. I absolutely want the Islanders to stay in Long Island, but if we did end up with the Predators, or the Panthers, or the Thrashers, or any of Bettman's other dumb ass Sun Belt experiments, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

As for the Jackets, I certainly have no real connection to them, but given that a lot of people here do, I certainly hope they stay and are moved to the Eastern Conference or something that allows them to develop a little more fan interest nationally. And of course if I ever relocated to Ohio it would be the easiest way to see the reborn Whale...:)
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:37 pm

AHL schedule released today and it is confirmed that Hartford will be playing Providence on Saturday, February 19th of next year at 7 pm. I cannot wait for the fucking announcement about it being an outdoor game...
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Mon Sep 20, 2010 7:36 pm

At last...

"HARTFORD — —
The Whale is returning to downtown Hartford.

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..."

http://www.courant.com/sports/hockey/hc ... 0559.story

Statement on the Wolfpack website regarding the agreement:

http://www.hartfordwolfpack.com/default ... &objId=746
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:54 pm

Brief newsclip about the name change:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncWG_gGi ... r_embedded
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby skatingtripods » Tue Sep 21, 2010 10:03 am

I'm not a fan of this. I'm all for bringing back the whale, but not to a minor league team. It's different than Cleveland bringing back the Barons name because the Barons were an AHL team way back when. But, to bring back the whale as an AHL franchise is a slap in the face to the NHL legacy of the franchise.

I guess it might just be my outsider POV, but I can't really see this paying homage to the name and logo. The only way the whale should have come back in to the NHL. If it never happens, then it never happens. Consider that the Rangers are Hartford's affiliate. I'm sure they were a rival team with the Whalers.

The whale being back must be a silver lining for most up there, but I wouldn't have done it like this.
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:31 pm

Given the current condition of the Hartford hockey market and Baldwin's long term plans, this is actually probably the best way to go. FWIW, he has explicitly said that the name "Hartford Whalers" and the NHL logo will be saved until such time as we get an NHL team back.

It's going to take Baldwin 3-5 years to be in position to seriously go after an NHL team, and right now the Wolfpack average 4000 a game. Rebranding them in green and white and calling them "The Whale" is the best way to get people to go to games up here in the meantime. Baldwin is definitely attempting to borrow from the True North playbook of turning Winnipeg's AHL team into one of the league's best attended to illustrate that passion for the sport never left the market.

If it were anyone else other than Howard Baldwin, I don't think this idea would work and it would just be seen as a cheap way to capitalize on nostalgia. But he's the guy who brought the NHL to Hartford in the first place, and people here are energized by his return and are eager to give his vision a chance to succeed.

As for the Rangers, I wouldn't say they were a rival, but like with most places, we weren't big fans of New York City. Still, that deal only runs through 2013 and in a perfect world by that point Baldwin will begin to be a player in getting an NHL team relocated. So it's not the end of the world.
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:46 am

Went to the Wolfpack's pre-season opener this evening, which also served as the introduction for the Connecticut Whale's new logo.

Image

Have to say I had the same reaction to it I had to the Jackets original "CB" logo. Not the worst thing in the league, but a missed opportunity as well.

Howard Baldwin did confirm, however, that there will be Whalers retro nights where the team will wear versions of Hartford's WHA and NHL jerseys.

It will be interesting to see what the secondary/ alternate logo looks like when it's released in a few weeks.
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby skatingtripods » Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:51 am

It looks like something Sea World would use to label a children's play area.
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:17 am

skatingtripods wrote:It looks like something Sea World would use to label a children's play area.


It's definitely the Islanders Gorton's Fisherman equivalent of Hartford hockey, to be sure. I can't help but feel that this was not Baldwin's first choice, and that something happened during his negotiations with the Rangers that required this unexpected and slapdash change.

For weeks leading up to the formal announcement, everyone was under the impression the team would be called the Whalers and that their logo would look something like this:

Image

Still, Baldwin has already made Hartford more relevant in the hockey world again and I'm still on board. I survived the Cirque de Soleil Cavs unis of the late 90s and I'm hopeful the "meh" reaction to the logo will ultimately lead to a much better one, as we saw with the Jackets. After all, this is the same guy who chose the Whalers logo that everyone still loves in the first place.
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Re: The Whale

Unread postby RIBrownsFan » Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:55 pm

Chris Berman throwing his weight (pun somewhat intended) behind Baldwin's efforts. As this moves forward, I certainly expect ESPN to help give his plan's publicity and support. Imagine, the network might actually do some good for once...

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