The Connecticut Whale kicked off in Hartford this weekend and it looks to have been a successful debut (in more ways than one). I’m stated my position on the Hartford NHL issue in the past but having read news on the debut (I plan on attending a game next month when I return to Connecticut) I’m not liking the new Whale.
With Brass Bonanza blaring, green and blue jerseys and Pucky the Whale it should be the Whalers, instead we’ve gotten what looks like a cheap Chinese knockoff. Howard Baldwin said he didn’t use the Whalers name because he didn’t feel sorting out the copyright issues were in the best interest of Hartford hockey at the current time. Fine, but now that he’s christened the Whale and started his Quixotic quest to return the NHL to Hartford he should address the copyright issues and admit the NHL isn’t coming back to Hartford.
As a Whalers fan I’d be far happier to see a Whalers playing in the AHL than the knockoff CT Whale. Furthermore in 5–10 years when Hartford still has no prospects of an NHL team what affect is the name and current campaign going to have on the hockey market? In other words, how many people showed up at the Whale debut in the hopes of being an influence on the NHL rather than to support an AHL team?
We can debate why the Whalers left and if they should have all day but the one thing that’s not up for debate is the NHL returning to Hartford. It’s not happening and Baldwin’s campaign only strings along fans who’ve been promised the NHL for 14 years now. I applaud Baldwin for wanting to return the hockey culture to Hartford but we need to rally around our AHL team, whether they be named the Wolfpack or the Whale(rs), because that’s the best we’re going to get. If we continue to hold out for the NHL we could very well wake up one morning and find the AHL gone as well.