The CT Whale experiment has come to an end
After three years of trying to re-establish the “whaler brand” in Hartford, the hopes of bringing back an NHL franchise took another hit this week. The team announced that it will be abandoning the “Whale” namesake and return to being called the Hartford Wolf Pack. Despite failing it’s main purpose, bringing the NHL back to the city, the Whale created a greater buzz with the fan base then the Wolf Pack. I think this is a mistake, because people in the community were willing to embrace the team once it honored the previous history in Hartford. Now the green and blue will be replaced by the red, white, and blue of the New York Rangers. At first glance this may not seem like a big deal, but to die heart Connecticut hockey fans it is. The Rangers were one of the biggest rivals of the Whalers, and it’s very difficult to love any part of your rival. It’s as if the love of your life left then soon after your rival drops their kid off at your door and tells you to love it the same way. When the Rangers told Hartford that the new minor league team would look nothing like the Rangers the fans of Hartford were pleased. However, this wasn’t the case as the Wolf Pack looked just like the Rangers with the same uniforms and colors. The death of the Whale is
The Wolf Pack are back, but will have a hard time appealing to Whaler Nation
unfortunately another failed attempt to once again attract a pro franchise to Hartford. With the declining health of the XL Center, and the lack of interest now that the team is no longer the Whale is another nail in the coffin for future NHL hockey in Hartford. I know for me its disappointing the Wolf Pack are coming back. At least the Whale reminded the city of it’s once great hockey tradition rather than having our rival shove their minor league squad down Hartford’s throat. Despite the Whale’s departure, the provided a great run filled with honoring past traditions and creating new memories such as Whaler Fest. This may be another punch to the gut regarding the future of the NHL in Connecticut, but as long as there is still hope and determination, it is one dream that can never die.
Rick Dipietro has returned to Bridgeport to try to restart his once promising career
It was supposed to be simple. Be the number one pick in the draft, become the backbone of the Islanders franchise and help the struggling franchise become Stanley Cup contenders. In 2006 that looked to be the future as the Islanders made Dipietro the face of the franchise with a then record 15 year contract worth 67.5 million dollars. Fast-forward to 2013 and the 31-year-old goaltender isn’t the toast of the town, but the butt of NHL jokes. Instead eating steak and playing in the bright lights of the National Hockey League, Dipietro finds himself eating fast food and riding the bus in the minors. The Islanders have put their future star on waivers, but no team will claim his albatross salary and broken down body. Since being anointed the future of the Islanders with the number one pick in the 2000 draft it’s been a roller coaster of a career. From shuffling between the minors and the pros early in his career to his dominating two-year run from 2005 to 2007, when he won 52 games and seemed to solidify himself as one of the top net minders in hockey. At one point the tri-state area had a three-way debate between Dipietro, Brodeur, and Lundqvist as to who was the best goalie in the area. However, Dipietro’s career and the Islander’s success both took
From savior to liability
a wrong turn after Dipietro put signed his John Hancock on his record deal. Despite his age Dipietro soon began to have annual hip and knee surgeries that many attributed to his butterfly style of goaltending. The knee surgeries caused Dipietro most of his starts as he became more likely to be on the DL then between the pipes. When he was sidelines in 2012 again he had appeared in all of 47 starts with only 14 wins since he signed his record deal. What made that even worst was that he was paid 18 million dollars during that period and averaged 1.2$million dollars per win. Since being drafted in 2000 the Islanders have only had three winning seasons and have struggled to find a suitable net minder between the pipes. While the Islanders are moving in the right direction, they’re currently looking to overtake the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and make the playoffs, Dipietro won’t be apart of it. Many Islander faithful partially blame the franchise’s move from Nassau to Brooklyn on the lack of success over the past decade, and Dipietro is at the root of this. Despite his injury history, and lack of success in the NHL Dipietro is trying to make a comeback. A great piece on Dipietro’s comeback is here (click link), which I highly recommend. Right now Dipietro is trying to rebound with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in hopes that he can get back to the NHL. While he’s had mixed success at Bridgeport, he’s 5-5, Dipietro is trying to stay positive and rebuild his game from the ground up.
Dipietro has hit rock bottom, but he has the talent to get back to the top
Despite everything that’s happened in his life, there is no question that Dipietro has the talent and the drive to be one of the top goaltenders in the NHL again. Personally I hope Dipietro can make a comeback and that a team will look past his contract fiasco and take a shot on him. I can relate because my body also betrayed me and ended my career prematurely. While concussions ended my career, I know what’s it like to have your body break down when you still have so much to offer. Hopefully Dipietro can make it back to the NHL and show the untapped potential he once showed as the number 1 overall pick in the draft. While he’s got a long road to make it back, Dipietro will have the opportunity to redeem himself and go from bust to NHL star once again.
The Phantoms are coming back to PA.
Ah yes Allentown, the city known for Billy Joel, Muhlenberg College, Dorney park, and Yoccos hotdogs. But now Allentown will also be known as Phantomtown. No, this isn’t a cheesy ghost town from a Scooby Doo episode, but a new mecca for minor league hockey. Starting in 2014 Allentown will be the home for the Philadelphia flyers American Hockey League affiliate and will be called the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. From 1996-2009 the Phantoms called the Spectrum Arena in Philadelphia, yes the spectrum where Rocky Balboa won the title, their home. The Phantoms became
Opening in 2014 the new arena on 7th St. & Hamilton
one of the AHL’s most popular and successful teams, including two Calder Cup championships. The phantoms hold a special place in my heart because my first hockey game was in 1997 when the Phantoms played in my hometown against the Beast of New Haven. While the Beast may be gone, the Phantoms have endured as one of the longest running minor league franchises. But when the Spectrum was demolished in 2009 the team moved north to become the Adirondack Phantoms. In Philly the Phantoms had one of the biggest followings for a minor league sports team and soon there was a public outcry to keep the team in Philadelphia but ultimately they decided to move the team to Allentown. This was after a heated competition between Allentown and
The Phantoms will have a new look in 2014 too
Camden, New Jersey to lure the franchise back from Adirondack. Allentown won the rights and began building the new “Allentown Arena”. The arena will be at the corner of 7th street and Hamilton Streets in the downtown and is expected to open in the fall of 2014. The new arena will hold 8,500 fans for hockey and 10,000 for concerts and is estimated to cost of around 270 million dollars. The arena has been deemed a multi-purpose arena and is looking to host between 140 and 200 events annually. The arena will feature retractable stands for concerts and trade shows and featuring multiple suites. While this price tag may be steep the arena is for much more than hockey. While the Phantoms will be the primary draw, and were the major reason for the development of the arena, its ultimate goal is help stimulate the economy for Allentown. While this a great for stimulating businesses for the downtown Allentown area, the hockey fans, especially the Flyer fans, will enjoy watching professional hockey and seeing the future stars of the NHL. I would recommend going for even none hockey fans, because in my personal opinion there is nothing more exciting than a live hockey game. Plus, you only live once! The new arena will also allow more concerts and other entertainment that even a greater amount of the Lehigh Valley community can enjoy.
AHL hockey will bring new excitement to the Lehigh region
The new Phantoms Arena won’t just bring hockey to this area but opportunities and events that the Lehigh Valley couldn’t even imagine. It will without a doubt allow for the Muhlenberg and Allentown community to have new and memorable experiences. If you would like to see the construction progress and stadium renderings go to phantomsarena.com. Thanks and Go Phantoms!!!