Hartford Whalers

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Hartford Whalers
Hartford Whalers logo
founding 1972
history New England Whalers
1972 - 1979
Hartford Whalers
1979 - 1997
Carolina Hurricanes
since 1997
Stadion Hartford Civic Center
Location Hartford , Connecticut
Team colors green, black, white
green, gold, white
green, blue, white
navy blue, green, silver
National Hockey League
Stanley Cups no
Conference title no
Division title 1986/87
World Hockey Association
Avco World Trophies 1972/73
Division title 1972/73 , 1973/74 , 1974/75

The Hartford Whalers (in their time in the World Hockey Association (1972-79) as New England Whalers ) are a former ice hockey team that was active from 1979 to 1997 in the National Hockey League . In 1997 the team moved to Raleigh , North Carolina and was called the Carolina Hurricanes from then on .

The team colors have changed several times over the years. At last they were navy blue, silver and green.


The franchise opened in 1971 when the World Hockey Association (WHA) announced that a team would be based in the New England region. The entrepreneurs Howard Baldwin , John Coburn , W. Godfrey Wood and William Edwin Barnes became the owners of the New England Whalers, as they named the team, and chose Boston as the team's home. Before the first season in the newly founded league, they brought many players from the competitive NHL league. They included Tom Webster , Ted Green , who was the crew's first captain, Rick Ley , Jim Dorey, and Al Smith .

The time in the WHA (1972-79)

Logo of the New England Whalers from 1972 to 1979

In the first 1972/73 season of the WHA, the Whalers were the best team of the regular season. They then dominated the playoffs and won the AVCO World Trophy . However, the trophy itself was not yet finished and the Whalers had to celebrate without a trophy.

The team played in Boston and Springfield for the next two and a half years, but the hockey boom in Boston waned and audience interest waned, so the decision was made to move to Connecticut within the New England region . A state that had no ice hockey teams, with the exception of a few lower-class teams in New Haven . It was decided to go to Hartford , where the games were played from now on. The team stayed in Hartford until 1997, with a brief interruption in the late 1970s when the ice rink was renovated. Then it moved to North Carolina.

The Whalers were a successful team, never missed the playoffs, took first place in their division three times, but could no longer win the WHA title. They had a very balanced squad and they hit a coup when they signed ice hockey legend Gordie Howe in 1977 .

In 1978 they reached the final again, led by 50-year-old Gordie Howe. After the season, the Whalers signed André Lacroix, the best scorer of the WHA of all time.

The Whalers were considered one of the most stable teams in the WHA and were among the four teams that joined the NHL after the WHA was dissolved in 1979. Many WHA players took the Whalers into the NHL. So did Gordie Howe, who ended his career with the Whalers at the age of 52.

Team records (WHA)

In the NHL (1979-97)

Hartford Whalers logo (1979-1992)

When they entered the NHL in 1979, the New England Whalers were renamed Hartford Whalers. But the Whalers never had the success they had in the days of the WHA. In the 18 years in the NHL they could only complete three seasons with a positive record, missed the playoffs ten times and could only win one playoff series. During this time, great rivalries arose with the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers .

The 18 years were dominated by catastrophic transfers, especially when stars were exchanged for mediocre players to strengthen the team in depth. So you transferred Mark Howe , the son of Gordie Howe, and top scorer Mike Rogers in various barter deals against players who could never convince. Very often there were transfers that sounded promising from the name, such as Chris Pronger against Brendan Shanahan , but it was often the case that the player was not happy at Hartford and left the team as soon as possible.

For a short while it seemed like the tide was turning for the better. In 1986 you could survive the first round in the playoffs and in 1987 you could win the division title led by Ron Francis and superstar goalie Mike Liut . But the team slumped back into the lower table regions.

Probably the worst moment was when superstar Ron Francis was transferred to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 . The player you got once again failed to live up to expectations and Ron Francis won the Stanley Cup twice in a row with Pittsburgh . The fans were extremely angry with the Whalers' human resources management that the general manager of the team had to leave and get a new job in Pittsburgh.

In 1992 you could qualify for the playoffs and failed in the first round only in a dramatic seventh game in the second extension against the Montréal Canadiens as Yvon Corriveau alone in front of the goalkeeper of the Canadiens only hit the crossbar.

They haven't played in the playoffs in the last five years at Hartford, but they had a few stars in the ranks with Sean Burke , Geoff Sanderson , Pat Verbeek and Andrew Cassels .

Team Records (NHL)

Farewell to Hartford

The main reason for leaving Hartford was the problematic market position. There were four other NHL teams in the vicinity, which made it difficult to find sponsors. The arena was still in good condition, but it was too small compared to other arenas and also ridiculed by the competition because it was part of a shopping center. Since many teams moved to huge multi-functional arenas, the small stadium could no longer keep up.

In the summer of 1994, Compuware founder Peter Karmanos bought the Hartford Whalers for $ 47.5 million and guaranteed that the Whalers would stay in Hartford for at least four years. After the purchase, Karmanos had two important economic issues to deal with for the Whalers. Frustrated by the lackluster image of the team and that there were very few potential sponsors in the area, he announced in 1996 that the team would leave Hartford unless at least 11,000 season tickets are sold for the next season. The threat turned into a huge marketing campaign and they actually hit the finish line ahead of the season and Karmanos stated that the team will stay safely at Hartford this season.

Karmanos also made sure that a new arena is built for the Whalers. In early 1997, talks broke out between the Whalers, Connecticut State and Governor John G. Rowland over a $ 147.5 million arena and an agreement is said to have been close. Negotiations failed because they refused to reimburse the Whalers for up to $ 45 million in losses while the new arena was being built. As a result, on March 26, 1997, the leadership announced that the team was leaving Hartford and potentially moving to Raleigh , North Carolina . For the first time, an American sports team announced a move without having a new hometown.

Fans reacted in shock, suspecting Governor Rowland of not wanting to keep the Whalers in Hartford, but seeing the possibility that an NFL football franchise could be built in Hartford.

On April 13, 1997, the Whalers completed their last game in Hartford against Tampa Bay Lightning . They won 2-1 and captain Kevin Dineen scored the decisive goal.

The Whalers could never win the Stanley Cup and did not reach more than the second round of the playoffs. Despite the poor playoff record and a rather small fan base, they got all the support they could get and the team's fans were badly hit when it became known that the team was moving to Carolina.

To complicate matters, the Hartford City Authority owns the rights to the Whalers logo. What prevents the Whalers or their jerseys from appearing in computer games (EA SPORTS NHL 2001, however, has the blue jersey at the Carolina Hurricanes ) and from sporting goods manufacturers no replica jerseys can be produced for fans. On the other hand, there is a chance that there will be another team called Hartford Whalers at some point .

In the 2012/13 NHL season , Jean-Sébastien Giguère of the Colorado Avalanche and Chris Pronger of the Philadelphia Flyers were the only two active players who had still played for the Hartford Whalers. Craig Adams , who was drawn by the Whalers in the ninth round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft , was the last draft pick in the team's history and was active for the Pittsburgh Penguins until 2015 . However, he made his debut in the NHL in the 2000/01 season for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Possible NHL return

In the past few decades, there have been increasing voices in favor of hockey returning to Hartford. In 2005, entrepreneur Lawrence Gottesdiener announced that he was interested in buying a flagging NHL team and moving it to Hartford, where he would build a new ice hockey arena. In April 2006, worshiper said he was interested in the Pittsburgh Penguins . The penguins were no longer profitable then and needed a new stadium.

Honors and Achievements

Sporting successes

Avco World Trophies
Division Championships season
Eastern Division (WHA) 1972/73 , 1973/74 , 1974/75
Adams Division (NHL) 1986/87

The team's most successful season was the 1972/73 season in the World Hockey Association , in which the New England Whalers were able to win the title of the WHA, the Avco World Trophy , for the first and only time . Once they were the best team in the regular season with 94 points, and the Eastern Division won, they sat in the play-offs in three rounds and eventually won by a 4: 1 victory in the series against the Winnipeg Jets to Title.

In the following two seasons, the Whalers managed to defend their division title in the Eastern Division. However, both times they did not get past the first round in the play-offs. In the 1977/78 season , after the division structure in the league had been dissolved, the Whalers managed to place second in the regular season and in the play-offs to qualify for the final again. There they failed, however, because of the Jets, which won the series in four games.

In the NHL, the Hartford Whalers did not win the Stanley Cup . They celebrated their only success in 1986/87 when they won the Adams Division . Overall, the team was able to qualify for the play-offs eight times in 18 seasons, but they only managed to get into the second round once, in 1986 , by beating the Nordiques de Québec .

Awards and All-Star Team Nominations

Between 1972 and 1997 only six players managed to win an individual award, five of them in the World Hockey Association.

Award Surname season
World Hockey Association
Ben Hatskin Trophy Al Smith 1977/78
Dennis A. Murphy Trophy Rick Ley 1978/79
Lou Kaplan Trophy Terry Caffery
George Lyle
Paul Deneau Trophy Dave Keon 1976/77
National Hockey League
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy Doug Jarvis 1986/87
Top scorer Blaine Stoughton * 1979/80
Second all-star team Mike Liut 1986/87
All-rookie team Sylvain Turgeon
Dana Murzyn
Peter Sidorkiewicz
Brad Shaw
Chris Pronger

* together with Charlie Simmer and Danny Gare

In the first season of the WHA, the striker Terry Caffery managed to win the Lou Kaplan Trophy as the best rookie of the season. However, he had already been named the best rookie in the American Hockey League the previous season. The team's coach, Jack Kelley , was also awarded the Howard Baldwin Trophy . It wasn't until four years later that George Lyle won the next trophy for the team as the best rookie. Dave Keon was awarded the Paul Deneau Trophy for fairest player in 1977 and 1978 , making him the only player on the team to ever win a trophy twice.

The final trophy for the Whalers in the WHA went to Rick Ley , who was honored with the 1979 Dennis A. Murphy Trophy as the league's best defender .

After the franchise's inclusion in the National Hockey League , Blaine Stoughton was the league's top scorer with 56 goals tied with Charlie Simmer of the Los Angeles Kings and Danny Gare of the Buffalo Sabers in the 1979/80 season . However, no trophy was officially awarded for this achievement. This was only introduced in 1999 with the Maurice Richard Trophy .

The first and only individual trophy a Hartford Whalers player ever won in the NHL was the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy , awarded to center Doug Jarvis in 1987 . By October 11, 1987, he had played a total of 964 NHL games in a row and was awarded the trophy for his exceptional endurance.

In the same year, goalkeeper Mike Liut managed the only appointment to an NHL All-Star team .

Within eleven years, between 1983 and 1994, five Whalers players were accepted into the NHL All-Rookie Team . The first player was Sylvain Turgeon , who was drafted second in 1983 and scored 72 points in 76 games in his first season. The last player was defender Chris Pronger , also drafted in second place.

Season statistics

World Hockey Association

Abbreviations: GP = games, W = wins, L = defeats, T = draws, Pts = points, GF = goals scored, GA = goals conceded, PIM = penalty minutes

season GP W. L. T Pts GF GA PIM space Playoffs
1972/73 78 46 30th 2 94 318 263 858 1st, Eastern Quarter-finals win, 4-1 ( Ottawa )
semi-finals, 4-1 ( Cleveland )
finals, 4-1 ( Winnipeg )
1973/74 78 43 31 4th 90 291 260 875 1st, Eastern Quarter-finals defeat, 3-4 ( Chicago )
1974/75 78 43 30th 5 91 274 279 867 1st, Eastern Quarter-finals lost, 2-4 ( Minnesota )
1975/76 80 33 40 7th 73 255 290 1012 3rd, Eastern Victory in the preliminary round, 3-0 ( Cleveland )
win in the quarter-finals, 4-3 ( Indianapolis )
defeat in the semi-finals, 3-4 ( Houston )
1976/77 81 35 40 6th 76 275 290 1254 4th, Eastern Defeat in the quarter-finals, 1: 4 ( Quebec )
1977/78 80 44 31 5 93 335 269 1255 2., WHA Victory in the quarterfinals, 4-1 ( Edmonton )
win the semifinals, 4-1 ( Québec )
defeat in the final, 0-4 ( Winnipeg )
1978/79 80 37 34 9 83 298 287 1090 4th, WHA Victory in the quarter-finals, 2-1 ( Cincinnati ),
defeat in the semi-finals, 3: 4 ( Edmonton )
total 555 281 236 38 600 2046 1938 7211 7 playoff appearances
14 series: 8 wins, 6 defeats
74 games: 41 wins, 33 defeats

National Hockey League

Abbreviations: GP = games, W = wins, L = defeats, T = draws, Pts = points, GF = goals scored, GA = goals conceded, PIM = penalty minutes

season GP W. L. T Pts GF GA PIM space Playoffs
1979/80 80 27 34 19th 73 303 312 875 4th, Norris Defeat in the preliminary round, 0-3 ( Montréal )
1980/81 80 21st 41 18th 60 292 372 1584 5th, Norris not qualified
1981/82 80 21st 41 18th 60 264 351 1493 5th, Adams not qualified
1982/83 80 19th 54 7th 45 261 403 1392 5th, Adams not qualified
1983/84 80 28 42 10 66 288 320 1184 5th, Adams not qualified
1984/85 80 30th 41 9 69 268 318 1606 5th, Adams not qualified
1985/86 80 40 36 4th 84 332 302 1759 4th, Adams Victory in the division semi-finals, 3-0 ( Québec ),
defeat in the division final, 3: 4 ( Montréal )
1986/87 80 43 30th 7th 93 287 270 1496 1st, Adams Divisional semi-finals lost, 4-2 ( Québec )
1987/88 80 35 38 7th 77 249 267 2046 4th, Adams Division semi-finals defeat, 2-4 ( Montréal )
1988/89 80 37 38 5 79 299 290 1672 4th, Adams Division semi-finals defeat, 4-0 ( Montréal )
1989/90 80 38 33 9 85 275 268 2102 4th, Adams Division semi-finals defeat, 3-4 ( Boston )
1990/91 80 31 38 11 73 238 276 2209 4th, Adams Division semi-final defeat, 2-4 ( Boston )
1991/92 80 26th 41 13 65 247 283 1793 4th, Adams Loss in the division semi-finals, 3-4 ( Montréal )
1992/93 84 26th 52 6th 58 284 369 2354 5th, Adams not qualified
1993/94 84 27 48 9 63 227 288 1809 6th, Northeast not qualified
1994/95 1 48 19th 24 5 43 127 141 915 5th, Northeast not qualified
1995/96 82 34 39 9 77 237 259 1834 4th, Northeast not qualified
1996/97 82 32 39 11 75 226 256 1513 5th, Northeast not qualified
total 1420 534 709 177 1245 4704 5345 29636 8 playoff appearances,
9 series: 1 win, 8 defeats
49 games: 18 wins, 31 defeats
1 season shortened due to the NHL lockout in 1994/95


Period Trainer
1979/80 - 1980/81 Don Blackburn
1980/81 - 1981/82 Larry Pleau
1982/83 Larry Kish
1982/83 Larry Pleau
1982/83 John Cunniff
Period Trainer
1983/84 - 1987/88 Jack Evans
1987/88 - 1988/89 Larry Pleau
1989/90 - 1990/91 Rick Ley
1991/92 Jim Roberts
1992/93 - 1995/96 Paul Holmgren
Period Trainer
1995/96 - 1996/97 Paul Maurice

General manager

Period General manager
1979/80 - 1980/81 Jack Kelley
1981/82 - 1982/83 Larry Pleau
1983/84 - 1988/89 Emile Francis
Period General manager
1989/90 - 1991/92 Eddie Johnston
1992/93 Brian Burke
1993/94 Paul Holmgren
Period General manager
1994/95 - 1996/97 Jim Rutherford

Players to be mentioned

Team captains

Members of the Hockey Hall of Fame

Blocked numbers

The blocked numbers under the roof of the XL Center

After moving to Carolina, numbers 2 and 19 will be reassigned

First-round voting rights

The list does not contain any draft picks from the WHA .

Web links

Commons : Hartford Whalers  - collection of images, videos and audio files