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#TBT look at the Hartford Whalers

Liam McGuire (@LiamRMcGuire) Jun. 19, 2014 12:45 PM
Hartford Whalers Photo: Al Bello/Allsport
In a part of our new #TBT series here at BarDown, we are going to look at now defunct NHL hockey teams and we're going to take you down memory lane and give you a crash course on them. We're going to sort through a wide array of topics including ugly jerseys, great/odd moments, and more.

So without further ado, the second team we'll look at is the Hartford Whalers.

(Image via Jayson Taylor)

Where'd they play? Springfield Civic Center, Hartford Civic Center
When they were active? 1979-1997
Playoff appearances: 8
Stanley Cup Victories: 0
Team's overall record: 1420 GP – 534 W - 709 L – 177 T (.438 winning percentage)
Most goals: Ron Francis – 264
Most assists: Ron Francis - 557
Most points: Ron Francis - 821

Notable players: Ron Francis (1981-1991), Kevin Dineen (1984-1997), Ray Ferraro (1984-1991), Pat Verbeek (1989-1995), Geoff Sanderson (1990-1997), Ulf Samuelsson (1984-1991), Dave Babych (1985-1991), Jeff O'Neill (1995-1997), Gordie Howe (1979-1980)

Best jersey: 1979 home jersey.

(Image via Sports Illustrated)

Worst jersey: The Whalers didn't wear many different looks, and the one's they did were all solid, so I can't really hate on any of them.

Did you know?

(Image via WhalersHockeyCards.com)

Hockey analyst Pierre McGuire was the coach of the Hartford Whalers in 1993. He was 32 and was the youngest head coach in the NHL. He coached the team to a losing record and was fired in 1994. Players praised his firing. I recommend checking out this article on the whole situation.

Did they have a goal song?

Not only did they play Brass Bonanza, a song composed by musician Jack Say after they scored, but it was the team's official theme song. General manager Brian Burke actually canceled the use of the song in 1992 because he was embarrassed by it. It was reintroduced after he left the team.

Worst trade:Fans were absolutely devastated when the Whalers traded Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Jeff Parker, Zarley Zalapski and John Cullen. The Penguins would go on to win multiple Stanley Cups with that group while the Whalers would be mediocre for the rest of their existence.

Best moustache: That would go to Gary Howatt, who had a beauty moustache.

(Image via Faceoff.com)

Best fight: While Jim McKenzie doesn't have the penalty minutes record for the Whalers (that belongs to Torrie Robertson at 1368) he sure knew how to drop the gloves.

Mascot: Pucky The Whale


Which celebrity currently reps their gear? Snoop Dogg recently wore a Whalers sweater during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Last game: April 13th, 1997. 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Last goal: Kevin Dineen assisted by Geoff Sanderson and Andrew Cassels.

Captain: Kevin Dineen

Watch the final game in its entirety.

Why the move?Owner Peter Karmanos moved the team after the Whalers were unable to sell enough tickets and he was unable to get a new arena. A new deal was almost reached, but it soon fell apart and the team was moved. Relocated: The team was moved to Carolina and they were renamed as the Hurricanes.

What does a former player have to say?

Jeff O'Neill

(Image via Shoebox Legends)

What was it like to play in Hartford?

For me it was awesome, I was drafted in Hartford by Hartford. In training camp I had the opportunity to live with Gordie Howe's son Marty, and he kind of took me in. I was new to the National Hockey League and I was pretty much happy wherever I was. It was disappointing though because after my first-year there was already talk of leaving Hartford. It wasn't that tough for me because I couldn't build that relationship in town where I had connections or friends so it was good while it lasted but Raleigh was pretty fun place too.

Was the transition tough?

Like I said, a guy like Kevin Dineen who was Mr. Hartford Whaler, and the guys who had been there for a while, the trainers and people who were local, it was awfully difficult for them because they had roots put down and they had kids in school and they were part of a diehard Whalers nation that bled green and blue but everyone kind of picked up and went to Raleigh and made it work.

Aside from the draft what's one of your fondest memories of Hartford?

Unfortunately it was probably the last game. It was special to see all the fans and the way they supported the team and came out. Unfortunately the building wasn't packed like that enough and that's ultimately why the team left that city. It's a weird market because there is Rangers fans and Boston Bruins fans all around that area and there didn't seem to be enough of those diehard Whaler fans but I'll always remember that last game: Paying respect to Kevin Dineen and some of the longtime trainers, Chuck Kaiton, Skip Cunningham and guys like that who've been there a long time.

Was it hard playing in front half-packed arenas?

I did it for a lot of my career and it was a difficult thing to do. The common cliché that was tossed around the locker room was that we have to make our own excitement tonight because there is not people banging on the glass and being loud and obnoxious and creating momentum out there. I almost got used to it because when I came out to Carolina there was bare crowds for the first three or four years, so it's a difficult thing to do, especially when you go to markets like Montreal or Toronto where the building is packed; it's frustrating because you don't really get that sense that you're in the NHL.

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(Stats and info from Hockeydb and The Sports E-Cyclopedia)