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J.S. Giguere, the last remaining Whaler, says Hartford will “always be special to me”

Jan 29, 2013, 3:16 PM EDT

JS Giguere Whalers

Though he’s not the NHL’s oldest goalie (that goes to Martin Brodeur) or even the oldest guy on his team (that goes to Milan Hejduk), Colorado’s Jean-Sebastian Giguere does have one historic mark nobody can claim to:

He’s the only active NHLer to have played for the Hartford Whalers.

“My first team,” Giguere told Adrian Dater of the Denver Post. “I didn’t spend a lot of time there, but it’ll always be special to me, the team and the organization.”

Hartford took Giguere 13th overall at the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. He was the first goaltender off the board — Martin Biron went at No. 16 to Buffalo — and has become the one of the most successful guys in a netminding class filled with great depth: Brian Boucher, Marc Denis, Jean-Sebastian Aubin, Vesa Toskala, Chris Mason, Brent Johnson and, of course, Miikka Kiprusoff.

Giguere returned to QMHJL Halifax following his draft year, but debuted for the Whalers as a 19-year-old in 1996-97, playing in eight games.

That ’96-97 team featured a number of talented players, several of whom have moved onto the next chapter of their hockey careers. Kevin Dineen is the head coach in Florida, Sean Burke is the Assistant to the General Manger in Phoenix, Nelson Emerson works in LA’s player development department and Brendan Shanahan is the NHL’s discipline czar.

(Andrew Cassels is an assistant coach with ECHL Cincinnati, in case you were curious.)

Yet of all these players, only one — Giguere — continues to play at the NHL level.

And while there have been rumblings about Connecticut wanting the Whalers back, it doesn’t seem as though he’ll get a chance to close out his career with a final appearance in Hartford.

“It was too bad the team had to move, because they had a lot of great fans,” Giguere said. “But those things happen sometimes.”

Update: As pointed out in the comments section, Chris Pronger — who played two seasons in Hartford — is still technically an active NHLer, because he’s on LTIR and therefore on Philly’s roster.

Of course, Pronger hasn’t played an NHL game in 14 months.

  1. ajbaxter1975 - Jan 29, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    I miss the New England Whalers and the goaltending of the late Al Smith.

  2. faceoff77faceoff77 - Jan 29, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Isn’t Chris Pronger technically an active NHLer?

    • Mike Halford - Jan 29, 2013 at 4:27 PM

      I guess, yeah, because if you’re on LTIR you remain on the active roster (Savard is still on Boston’s, if you check the website.)

  3. hockeyflow33 - Jan 29, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    Giguere is the first, and only, person to say Hartford is special

  4. digbysellers - Jan 29, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    Nitpicking…we know what ya meant Halford.

  5. martysbetter - Jan 29, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    There are a lot of great hockey programs in CT that churn out NHL caliber players year in and year out – it’d be great to have the Whalers back but Hartford just isn’t a desirable destination for numerous reasons.

    It’s a shame because I think the suburban Hartford area could potentially support a team given the right circumstances.

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