Bobcats Weekly: Episode 17
Bobcats Weekly: Episode 16
Connecticut #1 in all of college sports?
In a span of 24 hours the melting pot of college basketball wasn’t Dallas or Nashville, but Storrs Connecticut. For the second time in history the UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams are the National Champions at the same time. The school is now an incredible 13-0 in National Title games with four men’s championships and a record best nine National Championships for the women. 2014 will be remembered for the historic run of the men’s team after going through the ringer the previous season and the sheer dominance the women’s program which once again ran the table with 40 wins. After this week the main question shouldn’t be about UConn’s dominance, but the state’s dominance as a whole. Is Connecticut becoming one of if not the best state in the nation for college sports?
I can already hear the yelling and screaming already. What are you nuts? Connecticut the best state for college sports? Blasphemous! But is it? In the span of twelve months the state has won 4 National Championships. Last year, Yale won the hockey National Championship to go with the three championships the Huskies added, two in basketball one in field hockey. We all know about basketball. The UConn men remain one of the best programs in the country, and the women are in a league of their own. However, the nutmeg state has become a hotbed for college hockey. Last year both Yale and Quinnipiac made it to the finals in hockey and both have been perennial powers for years with consistent top 15 rankings in the country. With UConn hockey moving into Hockey East and steadily improving, the question is becoming when not if another team from the Constitution state will win the National Championship.
Yeah, but what about football? True Connecticut is not a football state, this isn’t Alabama with the Crimson Tide and Auburn. I think that is pretty obvious, but across the board the other sports in this state prove that Connecticut is the cream of the crop in college sports. Field Hockey? UConn won the National Championship in 2013. Baseball? UConn reached the regionals for the first time in 2013. Along with these national appearances the Connecticut schools have won numerous conference championships across the board.
With already established powerhouses, and strong up and comers, the Nutmeg state could soon be more than just the center of college basketball, but the NCAA universe as well. With some of the greatest underrated fan bases in the country, it’s not hard to see why Connecticut loves it’s college teams. With dominance in basketball and hockey, if Connecticut can establish another team or teams that become perennial powers, it will be hard to argue that Connecticut is not a great home for college sports, but “the home” for college sports.
College Hockey Key for Hartford Whalers Return
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)
Connecticut hockey’s greatest jerseys
Connecticut has a rich hockey history over the past one hundred years. Whether it’s professional, minor league, or college, Connecticut hockey has had it’s fair share of great hockey jerseys. Here are the best jerseys in Connecticut hockey history. But first lets start with the
Worst of the Worst: Bridgeport current alternates
It’s bad enough that the New York Islanders spawned these jerseys in the NHL. However, the Sound Tigers apparently didn’t get the memo and decided to ditch their awesome logo to instead just Sound Tigers script. Just for the simple reason that someone thought it was smart to repeat this abomination is why it deserves this place on the list.
10) New Haven Blades
This classic beauty belonged to the New Haven Blades over fifty years ago. The red, white, and blue color scheme, this jersey recreates the classic Montreal Canadians original six sweater. Add a classic New Haven script in cursive and you have a beautiful piece of hockey history. I know one thing this type of jersey may be old, but it would still look sharp on teams today.
9) Beast of New Haven
While many people may see this as an ugly jersey, I believe it’s awesome. A cool and unique logo that hadn’t been tried before, a dark jersey highlighted with neon yellow and red, and cool claw shoulder logos. You also have to love the neon numbers which made it easy to find the players and combining both the Blue and white colors for both jerseys. Why Beast? It honors New Haven’s gothic architecture with a gargoyle mascot in front of the moon. Hey give them credit for going out on a limb to create a different looking jersey. This jersey did defiantly catch people’s eyes and whose boldness was a favorite of New Haven hockey fans.
8) New Haven Knights
Nothing says intimidating like a black jersey. Spoiler alert there’s more to come. The Knights had a cool logo, but the question was could the colors of purple and gray be incorporated effectively. The answer is yes. These uniforms are beautiful and have the perfect amount of purple with gray accents that really make the jersey stick out. The black makes this jersey both intimidating and sophisticated. Add a great logo with a bold Knight clutching his stick and shield for battle, and you have a great combination. This is one jersey where everything comes together beautifully.
7) New Haven NightHawks (final years)
Look at these beauties. No this isn’t a team USA jersey, it’s the final New Haven Night Hawks jerseys. The classic Night Hawk logo with clean lines and just the right amount of red and white really make this sweater pop. Hey patriotism and the Night Hawks sounds like a match made in heaven. Hey maybe team USA should borrow these. While these jerseys do inspire the american spirit of a classic New England, they still can’t beat the original…..
6) New Haven Night Hawks Originals
The pinnacle of New Haven hockey. Nothing says Night Hawks like black and grey. There was a reason the Coliseum was known as the jungle at this time. It was because of the rowdy fans and the home team sporting these bad boys. The Grey outlines really make the black Night Hawk pop on this sweater. Add in the sophistication of the original LA Kings jersey and you have a winner. Ask hockey fans in New Haven and this is without a doubt the most iconic sweater in the city’s history.
5) Yale Bulldogs
When you win a national championship, you want to look good doing it. Sometimes less is more when you look at the Bulldogs sweaters. The double stripe piping on the socks, pants, elbows, and waist is a classic look that you see many teams trying to imitate now, I’m talking to you UCONN. The whiles and Navy with the Yale script on the front with the numbers with the simple “Y” on the shoulders shows that even though these jerseys may be simple, there is a certain element of pureness that you don’t see in hockey anymore. Yale, please never ever change your uniforms! They are already perfect don’t screw these up like many other schools who try to update their “looks”.
4) Connecticut Whale
Too bad these won’t be seen anymore. The former AHL team in Hartford, The Connecticut Whale had jerseys that meshed hockey history with modern design. For the purists you had the old Hartford Whalers colors with the Whale main sake. However, the jerseys add a modern “ocean” fringe along the bottom of the jersey with an updated logo that is both fun and different. Especially with the green jerseys, you could have mistaken this group as the original Whalers.
3) Quinnipiac Bobcats
For the Quinnipiac Bobcats, while they may be the new kids on the block, no other team has three amazing jerseys in their set. While the white, blue, and the new yellow jerseys are all awesome, I gotta go with these ones. When you watch Quinnipiac in their Yellow jerseys, they defiantly catch your eyes. Yellow is a hard color to pull off, but this shade along with the blue piping makes for an eye-catching and great looking sweater. Not only is the color great, but the Quinnipiac Bobcat logo with the “Quinnipiac” script and swiping Bobcat is a sick logo. If you look closely the head and arm of the bobcat create a Q, talk about a slick design. The running bobcats on the shoulders are just a bonus. The Quinnipiac program is just beginning its bright future and have an awesome pair of jerseys to help with the recruiting.
2 Bridgeport Sound Tigers Original
Now these are sick. Black jersey, a fierce blue, and yellow highlights to make the whole thing pop. Throw in an aggressive blue tiger logo and you have the best minor league jersey in state history. Unfortunately for the Sound Tigers, like most other minor league teams, their jerseys are exactly the same as their pro counterparts. While the new jerseys aren’t that bad, the original was bold and gave the Sound Tigers their own unique identity. I don’t know about you, but I wish they would bring these back out of retirement.
1) The Hartford Whalers
Was there any doubt? Forget Connecticut hockey, these are some of the greatest jerseys in NHL history. Let’s see the navy and white jerseys with the silver, green and white piping created a sophisticated look that popped and was easy on the eyes. Could anybody else combine Navy, silver, and green, in such a way. The colors balance each other out and there isn’t an overuse of one color. Oh there’s also one of the greatest logos in sports history. The Whale tail in Navy, the W in Green, and in the negative space between the two the silver forming the letter “H” for Hartford. I wish we could just have an NHL team back for the simple reason that the NHL needs classic jerseys like these again. And people wonder why Whalers jerseys are still so popular after the team left in 1997. Go Whalers! Do you guys agree? Any that I missed? Follow and comment to tell me about what you think.