The Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League has pledged to recognize the team’s past as the Hartford Whalers. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is looking to take advantage and has invited the team to play a game at Hartford’s XL Center or outdoors at East Hartford’s Rentschler Field.
Joe Gugliotti, an old Whalers fan from Watertown, talked to WNPR while waiting to cross the road at Hartford’s State House Square. He said he was “guarded” in his reaction to Malloy’s letter to new Hurricanes owner Thomas Dundon.
“You hear these things all the time about different sports teams maybe moving in,” Gugliotti said. “I mean, I would love for a professional sports team to come back to downtown Hartford. I’m just not sure it’s going to happen, especially with the way things are economically and financially with Hartford these days.”
The former owner of the team, Peter Karmanos, was responsible for moving the Hartford Whalers to Raleigh, North Carolina back in 1997.
Dundon bought the Hurricanes in January. Since then, there’s been talk of the team wearing throwback Whalers jerseys for a future game. And “Brass Bonanza,” the famous Whalers fight song, has even been played at a Carolina game.
“Yeah, I mean it brings back good memories,” Gugliotti said as he remembers hearing the tune at Whalers games in Hartford. “It’s a good little beat and song. It brings you back to the days when we had a professional sports team downtown.”
Luke DeCock, a sports columnist for the News & Observer in Raleigh, recently wrote an article criticizing Malloy’s letter and called it “political pandering to a fan base that’s already had its heart broken.”
“It’s easy to understand where it came from,” DeCock said. “You dangle that logo in front of someone and Pavlov’s dog starts salivating. But the reality is, this team is focused on what it has to do to be successful here. If it can make a few bucks on nostalgia, that’s great. That’ll help this team be more competitive.”
Last month, Malloy announced commemorative license plates featuring the team’s logo would soon be available for purchase at the DMV. A portion of the proceeds will go to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.