In a recent interview Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy recently revealed that there are at least three groups that want to purchase an NHL franchise and relocate it to Hartford. While there are numerous obstacles such as the NHL brass and the arena situation in Hartford, one major key for a pro team to call Hartford home is actually hockey at the college level. True a new arena is a necessity despite the 35 million dollars in upgrades Malloy has said will be going into the aging XL Center, but at the end of the day it will be the interest in hockey that will get the NHL back. Arenas can be built, teams can be bought, but fan support needs to be earned.
While Governor Malloy has made it clear that a new arena is one of if not the biggest necessities for an NHL team, he believes that college hockey is the key component in making Connecticut a major hockey market. With so many professional teams in the area and minor league teams, it is a difficult sell to fans to watch the Wolf Pack in Hartford. It’s like asking college kids to have alcohol less beer at a party, not exactly a tempting offer. With the UConn
hockey team entering Hockey East next season, Malloy has said that if UConn can become a big draw in Hartford, it could be a key factor in proving that the state can support an NHL team. With the success of the Quinnipiac and Yale programs becoming key players on the national stage, if UConn can become a top tier program with drawing power, then Connecticut could be the home of some of the best college hockey in the country. If UConn can get great support, Malloy feels this will be a huge step forward in attracting the NHL back to the Insurance Capital. Malloy has been on record stating: “If you want NHL hockey back in Hartford, then you need to support UConn hockey”.
If Nutmeggers can support the three college teams on consistent basis with great attendance, that could make up for the lackluster attendance at Wolf Pack games and allow the NHL to have a franchise in Hartford. If anything, the fact that the Whalers are still being talked about despite leaving in 1997 just proves how much the franchise meant to the state. With fan trips to games, including some recent ones to Islanders games, the Whaler fans base is strong and ready for a team. Now with groups within the state bidding on other NHL
franchises and a governor who has already proven that he wants a team back in Connecticut, it is now on up to the Whaler Nation to take over. If we can prove that we support the great college teams that the state is providing while continuing to show support for the green and blue, the NHL will have to listen. With the Success of the Winnipeg Jets and a few teams that could be looking for new homes in the coming decade, why not Hartford? With the new realignment Hartford would be a perfect fit in the Metropolitan or Atlantic divisions. While there is still a long road ahead for a Hartford Whalers return, if the Whaler fans continue there support for the state’s college teams the question could be when not if the NHL comes home to Hartford.
To see the entire Governor Malloy interview (click here)
3 thoughts on “College Hockey Key for Hartford Whalers Return”
Great article, I’m just upset that the governor didn’t mention (it also doesn’t look like he care about) Yale or Quinnipiac. He hasn’t gone to a game at either college. He also hasn’t gone or seem to care about the two AHL, or the FHL teams in Connecticut. Also, the Wolf Pack’s numbers have been going up, and the Sound Tigers have been pretty good as well. I’m not saying they’re great, but you should also talk about the excuses why Whalers fans won’t support what we have now.
Thank you so much. It would have be nice if he mentioned them based off of their recent success and National Championship run. I think the biggest excuse is that it’s not the NHL. With so many NHL options in the region, it’s hard to convince fans to sit and watch a minor league game when NHL action is so close
I hear the, “It’s not the NHL.” comment all the time. The other one I hear is, “The Rangers were one of the Whalers biggest rivals. So, I won’t support their team.” First, the Rangers were never a rival. Montreal, Boston, Buffalo, and even Quebec were the Whalers rivals. The only thing I can think of was that a lot of Rangers fans would come from New York and Fairfield County because it was cheaper than going to MSG. I go to about 50 Wolf Pack games a year because I love the game, and it’s cheaper than going to either New York or Boston. I still go to NHL games, but not as many because Hartford has an AHL team. If the NHL did come back, there’s no way I would be able to go to 50 NHL games. I would love to go to NHL games in Hartford, but I worry about things being the way they were before. They are only talking about moving a team here, and if that’s the case, it won’t be a very good team, and we might have an average attendance floating around 10,000 to 12,000 a game, no money for a new arena, and then have the team move away again.