Courant: From Wolfpack To Whale, and Back Again

Apr 24, 2013

It may be time to say goodbye to the Whale...again. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, Hartford's minor league hockey team could soon have a new name. The team used to be known as the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Then, in 2010, it was renamed the Hartford Whale -- a throwback to the city's onetime NHL Whalers. "It was sort of about embracing the Whaler past." That's Paul Doyle, a reporter with the Hartford Courant. He says Howard Baldwin, who operated the franchise, did his best to bring the Whalers back from the dead. They left the state in 1997.

"He brought back the Whaler colors, he brought back Brass Bonanza...he brought back players, too. Players from the 80s came back for autograph signings. It was sort of all about reviving the fan base by really looking back and embracing the Whaler past." It worked for a while. But Baldwin ran into financial problems. And as the hopes of an NHL revival faded, so did Baldwin's reputation -- and the Whaler name itself.

Now, Doyle's sources are telling him that the team has gotten the league's approval to revert back to the old Wolfpack name. "They considered Hartford Rangers as a name, which I'm not sure people would like that all -- the hockey fans here. And they also looked at Connecticut Wolf Pack, and that didn't work. So they're just going back to the old brand. It doesn't make a lot of sense from a hockey standpoint, because I think fans liked the kind of tip-of-the-hat to the old Whalers, the colors, and the Brass Bonanza and everything. I'm not sure how this is going to be received."

Doyle says an announcement could come within the next few weeks. You can read more at courant.com.