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Thread: Rebirth of the Whalers in the AHL?

  1. #1
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    icon115 Rebirth of the Whalers in the AHL?

    .....Well, kind of.

    The Hartford Wolfpack are the AHL affiliate of the NHL NY Rangers, having started play in the AHL for the 1997-1998 season.

    The Wolfpack has been wholly owned by the Rangers' parent company, MSG (a subsidiary of Cablevision), after the Rangers bought their old AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Rangers. (As an odd coincidence, the AHL team that predated the Rangers in Binghamton was the Binghamton Whalers, which had folded and sold their AHL franchise rights to the people who created the Binghamton Rangers).

    Hartford hockey fans have never gotten over their beloved Whalers (who started in the old WHA and ultimately moved to the NHL in 1979) leaving Hartford to become the Carolina Hurricanes.

    The Whalers' old owner, Howard Baldwin, wants to ultimately see NHL hockey return the Hartford, which may or may not be feasible in the future.

    In the interim, he has bought a controlling interest in the Wolfpack from MSG (although the Rangers still will control the hockey operations while Baldwin will control the business operations).

    Once the deal was announced a while back, it was widely expected that Baldwin would rename the team as the 'Connecticut Whalers.'

    Not quite.......apparently, it will be the 'Connecticut Whale.' Hartford Whalers fans used to commonly refer to their NHL team as 'The Whale.'

    The name change will happen sometime during the upcoming AHL season. The jersey and logo have not yet been revealed, but many expect it to be very, very similar to the old Hartford Whalers jerseys.

    We'll see.
    Last edited by Marc Brunengraber; 22-09-2010 at 05:56. Reason: corrected spelling errors

  2. #2
    IHF Member Conesy's Avatar
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    I feel that the whole rebranding of the Wolf Pack to the Connecticut Whale in mid season is a bit weird and kind of awkward. Though really, I'm all in favor of the rebranding.
    Twitter: @CSmeeth

  3. #3
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    I agree that it's kind of odd, as is the choice of the name "Whale" instead of "Whalers."

    However, I'm not sure if Baldwin still owns the name "Whalers" for NHL purposes, or if the NHL-related rights to that name are controlled by the Carolina Hurricanes.

  4. #4
    IHF Member Viperdan's Avatar
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    Can i ask a question... When things like this happen, can they just rejoin the league or do they need to be invited?


  5. #5
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    All they're doing is re-naming the franchise.

    There's no need for them to "rejoin," as they're already there.

  6. #6
    IHF Member Conesy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viperdan View Post
    Can i ask a question... When things like this happen, can they just rejoin the league or do they need to be invited?
    They don't need to, as the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack is being renamed the Connecticut Whale. And yes, it's rather odd that something singular is being referred to for a whole group.
    Twitter: @CSmeeth

  7. #7
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Here's the press release on the AHL website:

    http://theahl.com/wolf-pack-announce...ations-p144142

  8. #8
    IHF Member yursh's Avatar
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    Awesome! My favourite childhood team will be pseudo-reincarnated! My dear loveable losers, may you actually have some success this time around. ;)

  9. #9
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Here's the new logo:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39428622

    Kind of cool, but I still would have liked them to have used the old Whalers name and logo (assuming Baldwin still owns it or could have acquired rights to it).

    Still, it does have a clear connection to the Whalers of the past.

  10. #10
    IHF Staff Trim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Brunengraber View Post
    Here's the new logo:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39428622

    Kind of cool, but I still would have liked them to have used the old Whalers name and logo (assuming Baldwin still owns it or could have acquired rights to it).

    Still, it does have a clear connection to the Whalers of the past.
    Agreed.

    I can't get my head around that its clearly a baleen whale that they've given teeth to. Cartoonists and zoologists - a neverending debate.
    Bringing ice hockey to Northwest China!

    I'm the hole formerly known as KazakhEagles

  11. #11
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    The Connecticut Whale will be playing in an outdoor game ( a "home" game in Connecticut) against the rival Providence Bruins in February, 2011.

    http://howlings2.wordpress.com/2010/...-here-we-come/

  12. #12
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Life comes full circle, it seems.

    The old NHL Hartford Whalers had their AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Whalers (who I don't believe were owned by the NHL team, but I'm not sure of that).

    Eventually, the Binghamton Whalers folded, selling their AHL franchise rights to a group that created the Binghamton Rangers. The AHL Rangers were not owned by the NY Rangers, but entered an affiliation agreement with the NY Rangers, and became the NY Rangers' AHL farm club from 1990-1991 to 1996-1997. At that point, the NY Rangers bought the AHL Binghamton Rangers, and moved them to Hartford, where they became the Wolfpack up until this month, when they changed their name to become the Connecticut Whale.

    The Hartford community seemed to love the name change - over 13,000 attended the first ever Connecticut Whale game on November 27, 2010, a home game that saw the Whale beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, their in-state rivals (who are the top farm team & AHL affiliate of the NY Islanders), by a 3-2 score after a shootout.

    Here are some highlights:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQRfCq7jwPk

    Interestingly, Israeli national Oren Eizenman played his first ever game with the club on the very night it was re-named from the Wolfpack to the Whale, and scored a goal.

  13. #13
    IHF Member Conesy's Avatar
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    Apparently in the second game since being rebranded, they had a home attendance of roughly 3,000. Ouch.
    Twitter: @CSmeeth

  14. #14
    IHF Member BillyCanuck's Avatar
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    Just to touch on the name of the club, but I believe that they decided against using the name 'Whalers' because of another professional hockey club in Connecticut, the Danbury Whalers. Would be a little awkward having two professional clubs in the same state, same sport, with the same name (unless affiliated of course).

  15. #15
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Apparently, it turns out that the City of Hartford owns the Whalers name vis-a-vis the NHL, and it owns the name "Hartford Whalers," as well as the old logos (I believe that I read this in the New York Times recently).

    There's nothing that could have stopped Baldwin from naming the team the Connecticut Whalers, but apparently he was worried about the possibility of lawsuits - even if he was to win, defending them would be very costly and time-consuming, so he went with the old popular fan-made nickname for the Whalers - i.e, the Whale.

    The Danbury Whalers had nothing to do with the decision by the accounts I read.

  16. #16
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Oren Eizenman was traded by the Syracuse Crunch to the Connecticut Whale, the AHL farm team of the New York Rangers, where he has 2 goals and 1 assist in 4 games so far.

    He has split time, as usual, between the ECHL (Elmira Jackals, where he was again more than a point per game player in the ECHL) and the AHL this year.

    Hopefully he has found a home with the Rangers' organization.

    Good luck to him.

    Here's a very interesting article about Oren from the Connecticut Whale website:

    http://www.ctwhale.com/default.asp?w...k=59&objId=921

  17. #17
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Here are some video highlights of the Whale's most recent game, a come from behind 4-3 shootout win over the Worcester Sharks.

    You can really get a feel for the high level caliber of the AHL by watching:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47NTXST-shk

  18. #18
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Here is a link to an interesting article about Mats Zuccarello - his time with the Whale so far and his NHL debut game with the New York Rangers.

    http://www.ctwhale.com/default.asp?ctwhale=59&objId=966

  19. #19
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    The Whale is replacing their green jerseys with a new white jersey and a new blue jersey.

    The blue jersey is really nice, but the white one is boring.

    They should go with the green jerseys and the blue jerseys, and not bother with the white jerseys.

    Why get rid of the green jerseys? They were unique, and interesting, and gave a real vintage, Hartford Whalers feel to the team.

    A big mistake, in my view.

  20. #20
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    The Connecticut Whale hosted "Whale Bowl 2011" on February 19, 2011, hosting the Providence Bruins (Boston's AHL farm team).

    The Whale has dominated the P-Bruins this season, but lost the Whale Bowl 5-4 in a shootout after 65 minutes of game play saw the score tied at 4-4. Still, they got a valuable standings point from the game.

    The game set an American Hockey League record for attendance, as 21,673 were on hand to see the game in frigid, windy weather. Apparently more than 28,000 tickets were sold, but many chose to stay home because of the weather.

    Odd fact: Both Dov Grumet-Morris (goaltender) and Oren Eizenman (fourth line center) played for the Whale. That is the only time I know of that two players who have both played in both World Jewish Cups (2007 & 2009; Grumet-Morris played for the USA, & Eizenman for Israel) played in the same professional game.

  21. #21
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris was signed to an AHL contract this past week by the Connecticut Whale - here is the Whale's announcement on the matter from www.ctwhale.com :

    "Whale general manager Jim Schoenfeld announced today that the team has signed goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris to an American Hockey League contract.

    Grumet-Morris, who had been under a Professional Tryout (PTO) with the Whale, has played 10 games in the Connecticut net this season, going 4-3-1 with a 2.16 goals-against average and a 91.9% save percentage. The sixth-year pro has also appeared in 24 ECHL games this season with the Greenville Road Warriors, and carries the top GAA in the league at 2.32. Grumet-Morris is also tied for the ECHL lead in shutouts with three, and his save percentage of 92.2 ranks second in the league.

    Grumet-Morris, originally a fifth-round draft pick (161st overall) by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2002 NHL Draft out of Harvard University, has 37 career games of AHL experience with the San Antonio Rampage, Portland Pirates, Hamilton Bulldogs, Manitoba Moose, Milwaukee Admirals and Whale, with a record of 12-15-6, a 2.50 GAA, a 91.5% save percentage and four shutouts. In 72 career ECHL games, the 6-2, 205-pound Evanston, IL native has a record of 46-19-5, a 2.48 GAA, 91.5% save percentage and three shutouts.

    Prior to this season, the 29-year-old Grumet-Morris spent the previous two campaigns in Europe, playing in Austria and Slovenia."

    Grumet-Morris responded with a win in his first start after signing the contract, posting a 3-2 home win over the Springfield Falcons yesterday.

    Meanwhile, with Martin Biron out indefinitely with a fractured collarbone suffered in practice the other day, the parent New York Rangers recalled Chad Johnson to back up Henrik Lundqvist, leaving Grumet-Morris and rookie Cam Talbot (8-3-2 in the AHL this year) as the Whale's goaltenders.

  22. #22
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Here are some high definition highlights of the Whale Bowl, with Whale player Dale Weise wearing a microphone......enjoy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIunOkYD6_U

  23. #23
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Mats Zuccarello, last season's Swedish Elitserien MVP, was demoted by the Rangers to the AHL Connecticut Whale today.

    Zuccarello has 6 goals and 16 assists for 22 points, along with 4 penalty minutes, in 41 NHL games with the Rangers this season. He is also 5-for-9 in NHL shootouts this season, and is tied for fifth and second in the NHL, respectively, with 5 shootout goals and 3 shootout game winning goals.

    Zuccarello has 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points, along with 16 penalty minutes in 33 AHL games this season with the Whale. He got 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in his last 21 AHL games prior to his recall to the Rangers in late December, 2010.

    Zuccarello said the number of games he's played so far this season (74 combined between the NHL and AHL, not counting pre-season games) is wearing on him, since he's not used to that many games. Last season, when he was MVP of the Swedish Elitserien, he played in 55 regular season games for MODO.

  24. #24
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris won the Whale's MVP award for this season as voted by his teammates, and also won the award for favorite Whale player as voted by the fans.

    Grumet-Morris won the awards despite only playing the second half of the season with the team; he was signed to a tryout contract, and later a full AHL contract, after having been recalled from the ECHL's Greenville Road Warriors.

    Grumet-Morris was the ECHL's #1 goalie statistically at the time of his AHL recall, having gone 15-8-1 for the Greenville Road Warriors, with a 2.32 GAA, a .922 save percentage, and 3 shutouts.

    With the Whale, he went 13-5-1, with a 2.12 GAA, a .923 save percentage, and 1 shutout.

    He has started all four playoff games for the Whale to date, relegating rookie Rangers prospect Cam Talbot to the bench while Chad Johnson remains on recall with the parent
    New York Rangers for the remainder of the Rangers' playoff run.

  25. #25
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    The parent NY Rangers signed University of Michigan captain Carl Hagelin, a Swedish prospect, immediately after the NCAA Division I national championship game.

    Hagelin was assigned to the Whale for Connecticut's playoff run. He has played 3 games so far, with zero points and an even plus/minus rating.

  26. #26
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Howard Baldwin's emphasis turns from nostalgia to the on-ice hockey product for next season, with an emphasis on increasing attendance:

    http://www.courant.com/sports/hockey...,2801768.story

  27. #27
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Here is a synopsis of the Whale's free agent situation this off-season:

    http://www.ctwhale.com/default.asp?c...=59&objId=1361

  28. #28
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    On July 7, 2011, the Whale signed forward Jonathan Audy-Marchessault to an AHL contract for the 2011-12 season.

    Audy-Marchessault, a 5-9, 175-pound 20-year-old from Pont-Rouge, Quebec, spent four seasons playing in the QMJHL for the Quebec Remparts. Audy-Marchessault led all QMJHL players in playoff points and assists this spring, compiling 11 goals & 22 assists for 33 points in 18 games. That was after a regular season in which he led the league in game-winning goals with 11, while finishing 5th among QMJHL skaters in goals and tied for 6th in points, with 40 goals, 55 assists and 95 points in 68 QMJHL regular season games.

  29. #29
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Mats Zuccarello made this year's AHL all star game for the Whale, as did rookie Jonathan Audy-Marchessault.

    Audy-Marchessault has 15 goals and 23 assists for 38 points in 44 games in his first pro season.

    Zuccarello has 9 goals and 15 assists for 24 points in only 21 games in a season plagued by injuries so far.

    Meanwhile, the Whale suffered through a winless January, 2012, going 0-6-5 during the month in the worst slump in franchise history. The team has slid to second place in its division with a 19-16-9 record.

    Ryan Bourque, son of NHL legend Ray Bourque, is suffering through a rough rookie campaign so far - the small, skilled offenseman has scored only 3 goals so far this season, and has had a tough time transitioning to the AHL from major junior hockey.

  30. #30
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    The Whale may not survive for much longer in Connecticut......here is an in-depth article explaining why.

    It is an interesting read:

    http://www.courant.com/sports/hockey....column?page=1

  31. #31
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    The New York Rangers ended their business relationship with Howard Baldwin and Whaler Sports & Entertainment, retaking full control of the team (the Rangers had controlled hockey operations and Baldwin and his WSE company had controlled business operations and marketing).

    Baldwin has been unable to negotiate better lease terms for the Whale, which paid rent of $25,000.00 per game last season; the lease has other unfavorable tems regarding the team's share of concessions. The lease is ending in August of 2013, and the state of Connecticut has created a new quasi-governmental entity to run the arena at that time.

    Basically, one group had run the arena, one group had owned the team, and another group had marketed the team.......and it was not working. In addition, Baldwin's open desire to simply use the Whale to ultimately bring back NHL hockey to Hartford didn't sit well with the Rangers, who will likely move and rename the franchise at the end of next season.

    A sad end to a nostalgic trip.

  32. #32
    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    Move the franchise? So Hartford would now be left without even an AHL team? Sad way to go for a city that did have an NHL team at one point.

  33. #33
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    Well, the team played the last half of 2010-2011, all of 2011-2012, and all of 2012-2013 as the Connecticut Whale.

    The use of the name this season was a bit surprising, since the Rangers had re-assumed full control over the team's marketing and branding from Howard Baldwin prior to the start of this season.

    Earlier in the season, the Rangers announced that they would be re-naming the club back to the 'Hartford Wolf Pack' for 2013-2014. Then, in February, they reversed the decision, announcing that the team would continue to be known as the 'Connecticut Whale.'

    Now comes word that the Rangers have changed course yet again.

    The New York Rangers have announced that the Connecticut Whale will return to their old name, the Hartford Wolf Pack, starting next season (2013-2014).

    This ends 2 1/2 years of the club being known as the Whale.

    To me, this is sad.....the name, the logo and the colors all were a homage to the old NHL Hartford Whalers, and the team even played the "brass bonanza" song after Whale goals were scored, just like the old Whalers. It gave the team an identity linked to the heart of hockey history in Hartford.

    Now, they go back to a boring, generic name.

    I predict that interest in the team will drop, along with attendance.

  34. #34
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    The fans in Hartford don't seem to like the move back to the old name. Here is an article showing why the move is a short-sighted one by the NHL club......

    http://www.examiner.com/article/msg-...-the-wolf-pack

  35. #35
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    MSG sold off the remaining Whale equipment and jerseys, at high prices. The fans lined up to buy it immediately, despite the prices.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/conn...-the-xl-center

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