Other Sports in Hartford
Though the Senators may be long gone, not to mention professional baseball as a whole, but the sports scene in the city of Hartford is still alive and well. Of course, the Hartford faithful’s goodbye woes didn’t end when the Senators played their last game in Connecticut. The NFL briefly fielded a Hartford squad called the Hartford Blues, though their existence only lasted for the course of the 1926 season. More recently, ahockey team named the Whalers called Hartford home for nearly 20 seasons, first taking the ice as the New England Whalers in the 1972 season. The Whalers would move to Hartford in 1974 after playing their first 3 season in Boston, keeping the name New England Whalers until 1979 when the team took the name of their new hometown, re-christened the Hartford Whalers. Though the Whalers started began life as a member of the Word Hockey Association, they survived the 1979 merger into the National Hockey League, joining the highest level of professional hockey. Problems for the franchise and the city began to emerge in the mid 90′s when new owner Peter Karmarnos purchased the team. Though he pledged to keep the Whalers in Hartford for at least 4 years, though their tenure lasted only 3 years following his purchase. Karmornos expressed dissatisfaction with the team’s attendance and the state of the arena, urging the city to finance either an entirely new stadium, however, when negotiations fell apart surrounding the timeline and compensation for losses during the construction process, he announced the team would be moving on. The Whalers played their last game on April 13, 1997, defeating the Tampa Bay Lighting 2 goals to 1. The next season they took up residence in Raleigh, North Carolina, since known as the Carolina Hurricanes.Still, despite their losses, a few teams call Hartford home to this day across the sporting landscape. Though the city lost the Whalers, the Hartford Wolf Pack, a minor league hockey team took their place, beginning play in 1997 in the XL Center, the former home of the Whalers. The Wolf Pack play in the American Hockey League, the highest league in the minor league hockey system. Though they certainly can’t replace the Whalers entirely, on-ice success has softened the blow, as the Wolf Pack qualified for post-season play in each of the first 12 seasons they played in Hartford. In fact, 2009-2010 marked the first time since their move to Hartford in which they missed the playoffs. The highlight of their stay would be the 1999-2000 season in which the team captured the Calder Cup, the AHL’s championship trophy. This season will mark a planned tribute the long lost Whalers as the team will change its name from the Hartford Wolf Pack to the Connecticus Whale at mid-season, adopting the old Whalers colors as well. The decision was made when Howard Baldwin, a Whalers former owner, announced he had become the new head of the organization’s marketing team.Aside from hockey, the city of Hartford also plays host to the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League and the Hartford Wanderers, a professional Rugby team. Occasionally, the University of Connecticut men’s and women’s basketball teams, comprising one of the most prominent basketball programs in the country play home games at the XL Center, an exciting special occasion for the many alumni in the area.