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Connecticut governor reportedly wants the Whalers back

Jan 7, 2013, 2:53 PM EDT

Ron Francis Getty Images

It’s a long shot, but apparently Connecticut governor Dan Malloy is trying to bring the NHL back to Hartford for the first time since the Whalers left for Carolina in 1997.

From the New York Post:

“Governor Malloy has formed a group to bring an NHL team to Hartford,” a source with direct knowledge of the situation said. Recently, Malloy approached at least one potential buyer, a second source said, and told the suitor the plan is to build a new arena as part of a bigger development that would be in the state, but not necessarily Hartford.

Malloy, in telling local TV last summer that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman had told him it was “unlikely” a team would be relocated to his state, said it would take an investment of roughly $450 million to bring a new arena to life.

A Malloy spokesman told The Post “persons have reached out to him with non-specific proposals” but that was it.

One of those persons may be former Whalers owner Howard Baldwin, who in November of 2011 unveiled a plan to return the NHL to Hartford by 2017.

Again, it’s a long shot. First a new arena would need to be built. Then the NHL would have to re-locate a franchise or grant the city an expansion team. At this point, Quebec City, Southern Ontario, and Seattle are more likely relocation/expansion markets than Hartford.

But hey, it was a long shot the Jets would return to Winnipeg, so let’s cue the music…

Update (3:23 p.m. ET):

  1. pastabelly - Jan 7, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    It may be a longer shot than they even believe because the Bruins now may own rights to that market.

    • matt8204 - Jan 7, 2013 at 3:20 PM

      The lockout ends and now everyone is on the hockey bandwagon, even politicians, lol.

      I’d like to see it. They kind of got screwed out of a Cup like Quebec did. Colorado won the Cup in ’96, the first season after the move. It took Carolina a decade to win it after moving from Hartford, but they also got to the Final in 2002.

      • badintent - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:28 PM

        Pro teams are built on big company support. We know that many Wall Street heavy hitters live in Connenticut becuase of the low state income taxes( if any ).So , can we all imagine Goldman Sach stepping up and telling Bettman we want this team now ? Like he gonna say no ? $$$$$$$$$$$$$ talks. Just ask your stock broker or investment banker.
        Next question

    • will5059 - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:34 PM

      Bettman has addressed this on his siriusXM radio show. NHL teams have what is called a “50 mile sphere of influence”. Since Hartford is not within 50 miles of any current NHL team this would not be an issue and no one can stop them from joining the league.

  2. pastabelly - Jan 7, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    I should give myself a thumbs down. Territorial rights in the NHL, for some reason, only go 50 miles from a franchise’s home city.

    • matt8204 - Jan 7, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      When did that kick in? Must be a relatively new clause…otherwise, how are the Devils, Rangers and Islanders in their current locations? Was an exception made for them?

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jan 7, 2013 at 10:15 PM

        Sounds about right. Minnesota didn’t get anything for Winnipeg moving from Atlanta. Winnipeg is Minnesota’s soon to be (we hope) rival.

  3. quizguy66 - Jan 7, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    BRING BACK THE WHALE!!!
    -QG

    • sabatimus - Jan 7, 2013 at 3:26 PM

      There’s already the Connecticut Whale :D

  4. thedavesiknowiknow - Jan 7, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    The solid blue jersey might be the best NHL jersey/color scheme of all time.

  5. tmoore4075 - Jan 7, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    As was already said in the article Quebec is the first location with either Markam or Seattle being next. It’s 4th on the list at best. Would like to see it but if it were to happen we’re years away.

    • desertfan - Jan 7, 2013 at 4:01 PM

      Sorry but Seattle 1, GTA 2, Quebec 3 or 12.

  6. contraryguy - Jan 7, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    Well if the Blue jackets finish at the bottom of the league again, you can have ‘em after this year. We’ll even stick a spear in the cannon so you can call em the ‘Hartford Harpoons’ or something.

  7. capesouth - Jan 7, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    I will say it is probably better having a team in Hartford than Columbus but either way, the trend should be relocation/contraction and not expansion. The NHL obviously has trouble bc most teams aren’t profitable. Why expand to another mediocre market? Canadian markets and maybe Seattle make sense but only through relocation, not expansion teams.

    • matt8204 - Jan 7, 2013 at 4:02 PM

      I agree. I think the league is already bloated by 4-6 teams.

      • capesouth - Jan 7, 2013 at 4:24 PM

        Quality over quantity! I’m no expert but I think that would eventually lead to the growth of the game..

  8. kitshky - Jan 7, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    Second favourite team as a kid … and maybe the steeziest NHL uni of all time.

  9. steelers88 - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    Hartford VS Boston or Hartford vs NYR or NYI could be great rivalries. Better than Columbus vs Detroit or Chicago.

  10. craigkeller - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    i would donate money to bring the Whalers back to CT! LOL, I even hate Gov. Malloy, but would probably vote for the guy if he did end up forming such a committee. Even if they play in Bridgeport (closer to me, a city with NHL ties already)! It doesnt matter. I just think that this state needs and deserves a pro team. We got played last time by a new owner who had no intention of ever keeping the team here but sold us all on the opposite. Lets bring back the Whalers!

  11. hockeyflow33 - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    Has anyone ever been to Hartford? It’s one of the worst cities you could visit and the arena is in in the lone 4 block district that contains working people in the city. You’d be better served putting an NHL franchise in Providence, Nashua, New Hampshire or Portland, Maine.

    They also averaged 5,695 fans in 10/11, 4,573 in 11/12 and 3,850 this season. A declining fanbase in a declining city is not a good idea.

  12. steelers88 - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    If Columbus ever got good they might actually have a pretty good fanbase. If they keep loosing the NHL should consider moving Columbus to Oregon, Seattle, South Dakota, or North Dakota.

    • contraryguy - Jan 7, 2013 at 8:05 PM

      The Dakotas? Talk about some tough love… even I wouldn’t wish that on the Jackets players. Although I would certainly root for them if they took over that Fighting Sioux nickname from UND.

  13. jimw81 - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    Breakfast, shmreakfast. Look at the score, for Christ’s sake. It’s only the second period and I’m up 12 to 2. Breakfasts come and go, Rene, but Hartford, “the Whale,” they only beat Vancouver once, maybe twice in a lifetime.

  14. e5again - Jan 7, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    Hartford? The Whale?

  15. stroh5584 - Jan 7, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    Nice picture of Ronnie Franchise by the way.

  16. calithirteen - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    Move the Coyotes out of Arizona and put them in Hartford. They would do much better there in CT!

  17. DED - Jan 8, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    @badintent: Yes, CT does indeed have a state income tax and it isn’t that low. Plus we have a 6.375% sales tax and high property taxes (though not as high as NJ).

    The Wall Street big wigs don’t live anywhere near Hartford. They all live within driving distance of NYC (Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, Westport, New Canaan) and root for NY teams. Hartford is much further away and treated as a distant colony of Boston. The only thing Hartford has is insurance companies which are sponsors of the state’s AHL teams.

    And I can’t see Goldman Sachs caring about hockey.

  18. hawkeyplayer - Jan 8, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    meeeee toooooo!

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