Hartford Wolf Pack
Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL)
Danbury Whalers (FHL)
Logos of three hockey teams active
in Connecticut as of 2010

Professional ice hockey in Connecticut has a rich tradition dating from the mid 1920's. Most of these teams were NHL minor league affiliates located in New Haven, though with the closure of the New Haven Coliseum, minor league affiliates now exist only exist in Hartford and Bridgeport. Hartford also had its own Major league team, the beloved Whaler's team that existed in Hartford from 1974 to 1997. Independent hockey leagues teams have also been gaining a foothold in Danbury starting in 2004.

This article will discuss professional hockey (teams that employ their players), organized by city, starting with Hartford.


Hartford, the capital of Connecticut, was bereft of a professional ice hockey team until 1974, when the Whalers franchise from the World Hockey Association came to town, occupying the newly built Hartford Civic Center. After the Whaler's relocated to North Carolina in 1997, the minor league team the Hartford Wolf Pack relocated to the Civic Center. In the years since, various proposals for a new arena have been submitted with the hope of attracting a new major league hockey team.

Major League Hockey in Hartford Edit

Hartford Whalers (relocated) Edit

The former Hartford Whalers were the first and only major league hockey team located in Connecticut, nestled halfway between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers/Islanders hockey markets. The team was founded in Boston as the New England Whalers, one of the original World Hockey League teams (from whose initials "WHA" inspired the Whaler's name). The WHA planned for a rival team to play in New York on Long Island, however the NHL created the Islanders franchise to fill the desired arena, shutting them out of the market.

Team Years Active League Home Venue
Hartford Whalers 1971-1974 in Boston
1974-1997 in Hartford
1997-Present (2010) in Raleigh, NC
(as the Carolina Hurricanes)
WHA (1971-1979)
NHL (1979-Move to Raleigh)
Hartford Civic Center
(Except during its construction and major repairs)

The Whaler's moved to Hartford in 1974, and entered the NHL in 1979, where it became the Hartford Whalers. Though it had losing seasons its first two years in Hartford, the team had won the 1972-73 WHA championship while in Boston and, never missed the playoffs while in the WHA. The team had mixed success in the NHL before relocating to Raleigh in 1997 due to attendance and revenue issues.

Main article: Hartford Whalers

Post-Whalers Hockey Culture Edit

Note, this section describes actions taken by third parties that are not affiliated with the Whalers/Hurricane's franchise

Whaler banners hanging from the Hartford Civic Center rafters in 2007. This set includes several numbers symbolically "retired" in 2006.

Years after the departure of the Whalers, the team remains a focus of civic pride among Connecticut residents. The retired jersey numbers still hang on green and white banner from the rafters of the former Hartford Civic Center (now called the XL Center) where the team played in Hartford, CT, and numerous team photos line the venue's lobby[1]. In addition to the Jersey number's officially retired by the team, the banners include former team members Ulf Samuelsson's #5, Ron Francis's #10 and Kevin Dineen's #11, which were symbolically added in honor of the players in 2006, nine years after the team departure [2].

Many fans have continued to follow the team after its move to North Carolina, however some have tongue and cheek boycotted the team as former players from Hartford were traded to other teams or retired[3]. Loyalty is however remains focused on the team's Hartford years, with new Whaler's merchandise sales alone among the highest selling brands in the NHL as of August 2010[4]. This continued popularity throughout the intervening years has lead to many efforts to bring NHL Hockey back to Hartford by individuals such as Hartford real estate magnate and former XL Center operator Larry Gottesdiener and former Whalers franchise owner Howard Baldwin.

Efforts to Revive Major League Hockey Edit

Several efforts have been made over the years to revive NHL hockey by promoting the Hartford market for a new or relocated NHL franchise.

Larry Gottesdiener, head of Northland Investment Group has, scouted for years for an NHL franchise to bring to Hartford. Northland, a firm heavily invested in Hartford real estate, jointly operated XL Center from 2007-2010. Gottesdiener hoped to bring a new team temporarily to the XL Center until a modern arena could be built in a possible deal with the state.[5][6] The new team would have likely been named after the Whalers, as at least some of the logos associated with the "Whalers" franchise were registered by Northland until 2009, when the registration with the patent office expired.[7] Northland has since divested of its share in the XL Center, and appears to have abandoned its attempts to attract and NHL team.

Former Whaler's owner Howard Baldwin, founder of Whalers Sports & Entertainment, hopes to build continued fan excitement for the Whalers brand, and the sport of hockey in general,[8] by sponsoring numerous events such the Whalers Reunion and Fan Fest in August 2010 featuring charitable events and appearances by former players. He is also planning the Whalers Hockey Fest, a hockey festival in East Hartford, Connecticut at Rentschler Field scheduled for February 2011. The festival will feature over 20 outdoor high school and college hockey games and a possible appearance from the AHL minor league team in Hartford, the Hartford Wolf Pack. [9] Baldwin hopes that by proving Hartford can be a successful minor league market, he will be able to attract an NHL franchise.[10]

To further promote Hockey within Connecticut, as of early July, 2010, Baldwin has been negotiating to purchase or control the Hartford Wolf Pack, Baldwin hopes to build the franchise into an AHL AHL Eastern Division attendance leader. Currently the Wolf Pack ranks near the bottom in attendance. The team would likely remain an affiliate of the New York Rangers if the deal goes through. [11].

Minor League Hockey in Hartford Edit

Hartford Wolf Pack Edit

Team Years Active League NHL Affiliate Home Venue
Hartford Wolf Pack (1997-2010)/
Connecticut Whale (Mid Fall 2010)
1997-98 to Present (2010) AHL New York Rangers XL Center
Formerly the Hartford Civic Center

After the NHL team, the Hartford Whalers, left for North Carolina in 1997, the minor league Hartford Wolf Pack relocated from Binghamton, NY to Hartford. The Wolf Pack had a previous relationship with Hartford in the 1980's as the Whaler's AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Whalers, until they started their current affiliation with New York Rangers in 1990. In 2010, the team announced it was changing its name to the "Connecticut Whale", to honor hockey tradition in Hartford started by the Whalers. [12]

Main article: Hartford Wolf Pack

Danbury Edit

Danbury, CT has a fairly short history of minor league hockey from mostly independent leagues (no affiliation with the NHL). Most of the teams succumbed to budget and management problems.[13] Danbury teams played at the Danbury Ice Arena, built in 1999 and renovated in 2004 just before the Danbury Trashers began play.

Danbury Whalers Edit

Team Years Active League
Danbury Whalers 2010-11 to Present (2010) Federal Hockey League

The Danbury Whalers are the current active team in Danbury[14]. The team is also named in honor of the former Hartford Whaler's NHL hockey team. The team and the FHL league, however, have no affiliation with the NHL or any NHL franchise.[15]

Main article: Danbury Whalers

Previous Teams Edit

Team Years Active League
Danbury Mad Hatters 2008-09 Eastern Professional Hockey League
New England Stars 2006-07 North East Professional Hockey League
Danbury Trashers 2004-05 to 2005-06 United Hockey League

Bridgeport Edit

Bridgeport Sound Tigers Edit

Team Years Active League NHL Affiliate Home Venue
Bridgeport Sound Tigers 2001-Present (2010) AHL New York Islanders Arena at Harbor Yard

The Sound Tigers begin play in the AHL in 2001. During the first season of play, the Sound Tigers won their division championship and played in the Calder Cup Finals, though ultimately losing to the Chicago Wolves four games to one. As of the 2009 season, the team had seven winning seasons.

New Haven Edit

New Haven has had sporadic teams since the mid 1920's, hosted at the New Haven Arena until 1972 (demolished 1975), and followed by the New Haven Coliseum until 2002 (demolished in 2007). Since the Coliseum's closure in 2002, professional hockey has not returned.

Former New Haven Teams Edit

Team Years Active League NHL Affiliate Home Venue
New Haven Knights 2000-2001 UHL independent New Haven Coliseum
Beast of New Haven 1997 to 1999 in New Haven
Previously Carolina Monarchs 1995–1997
in Greensboro, NC
AHL Carolina Hurricanes† and
Florida Panthers
New Haven Coliseum
New Haven Nighthawks (1972-92)/
New Haven Senators (1992-93)
1972-73 to 1992-93 AHL Minnesota North Stars (1972–1977)
New York Islanders (1972–1973)
New York Rangers (1977–1981 & 1984–1987)
Los Angeles Kings (1981–1991)
Ottawa Senators (1992-1993)
New Haven Coliseum
New Haven Blades 1954 to 1971-72 EHL N/A New Haven Arena
New Haven Eagles/
New Haven Ramblers (1946-1950)
1926 to 1951 AHL (1936-1950)*
*briefly EHL (1943-44)
Can-Am (1926 to 1936)
N/A New Haven Arena</small>

†The Beast of New Haven moved to Connecticut when the Hartford Whalers moved Raleigh, NC to become the Carolina Hurricanes

References Edit

This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Professional ice hockey In Connecticut. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

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