As a Bruins fan growing up, I remembered the Bruins rivalry with the Hartford Whalers for the fight for supremacy in New England. I'm sure even older fans remember a better rivalry than I. In the early 1990s these two teams played in some of the hardest fought games for the Adams Division crown and their rivalry with Boston was almost up there with the Bruins rivalry with the Canadiens.
Then in March of 1997, Whalers owner Peter Karmanos announced that the team would move to the hockey hotbed that is Raleigh, North Carolina. With that announcement came a heavy blow to Whaler Nation and the silence of the iconic Brass Bonanza. The NHL was a weird time back then with Gary Bettman choosing to expand out west and in the southeastern US while plucking teams from Winnipeg, Quebec City, and Hartford. One of these teams, the Phoenix Coyotes, are in such financial straits that they filed for bankruptcy and are now being controlled by the NHL. The Coyotes actually had a buyer that was willing to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario but Bettman preferred that the team stay in Phoenix as to not make Bettman look bad. Bettman never fought this hard to keep the Jets in Winnipeg when they decided to move to Phoenix.
The Phoenix Coyotes are not much longer in the Valley of the Sun whether Bettman would like to admit it or not. So why not move the Coyotes to Hartford? The NHL is already planning to realign teams beginning in the 2012-13 season and since the Winnipeg Jets, formerly the Atlanta Thrashers, are moving from the East to the West it just seems like an even trade to move Phoenix to Hartford. The Coyotes are a good team but will never compete with the Suns, D-Backs, or Cardinals even if they make a strong playoff run.
The Whalers still have a strong fan base some 14 years after their departure and Whalers gear continue to sell very well. The AHL team based out of based out of Hartford changed their name to the Connecticut Whale and retained former Whalers mascot Pucky the Whale. Their attendance this past season, the first under the new Whale name, had the their highest average attendance in six seasons. Their only real problem is getting a new arena but Whale owner and former Whalers owner Howard Baldwin is committed to drum up enough interest in hockey in effort to build a new arena.
I am hopeful that hockey would return to Hartford and the famous whale tail logo would adorn the green jerseys once again. The Brass Bonanza playing from the loudspeakers as the Whalers take the ice. But until that time comes all we can do is remember and just hope that the Whalers come back home where it belongs.