On October 11, 1979, the Minnesota North Stars opened the season playing the Hartford Whalers. The Whalers had been in existence since 1972 when the somewhat disingenuously named "World Hockey Association" or WHA began operations, and when the WHA and NHL merged, “the Whale” became one of the 4 teams that joined the NHL, along with the Oilers, Nordiques, and Jets.
The NHL treated the merger as an “expansion,” but for an organization “welcoming” new partners, the 4 new NHL franchises were basically stripped of their players and placed at the end of the draft order due largely to the acrimony between the two leagues – and the result was predictable – the Oilers were the only team that ever became successful (due in large part to one particular once-in-a-lifetime player), the rest were relegated to mediocrity. The rest of the three eventually relocated to greener pastures: The Whalers to Raleigh to become the Hurricanes, the Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche, and the Jets became the Phoenix Coyotes. It was only upon relocation that the Whalers and Nordiques achieved any real level of success. Arguably, the league's hubris here started a downward spiral to their canceled season - who wants to pay to see subpar competition?
And so it was 18 years after the inauspicious start in Minnesota (a 4-1 loss) that on April 13, 1997 they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning – perhaps apropos given the NHL’s expansion efforts into areas not typically considered “hockey friendly.” Also apropos, the day before Ottawa defeated Buffalo – far more typical hockey outposts – which eliminated Hartford from the possibility of the playoffs. April 13, 1997 would be the Whalers final game in Hartford.
They’ve been gone from Hartford now for almost as long as they were in the NHL. 17 years ago yesterday, they pulled up stakes and left Connecticut for good.
Connecticut has not been without sports – see the 2014 NCAA Basketball Champion University of Connecticut: the New England Patriots flirted with moving to Hartford until it turned out the property they were looking at was in fact a toxic wasteland and since 2003 the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun has played at Mohegan Sun Resort Casino, but let’s face it ALMOST being an NFL city isn’t the same as being one; being the home of a WBNA team – basically a vehicle for the Indian Casino to draw crowds – isn’t exactly the same as being home to an NBA team.
Here’s the thing though: there are probably more Whalers fans now than there ever were when they were playing. When they would play the Bruins, it was basically a home game for the Bostonians. From 1988, attendance was on a steady decline – it only began to increase when talks of the team moving began. In contrast, The B’s were consistently drawing a healthy crowd. It took three years for the Hurricanes to average what the Whale had been averaging, but they’ve been a healthy draw since. The Whalers now have about 456 fans on facebook.
There was a great write up in the Boston Sunday Globe yesterday on the “Fanniversary” of the last game, and while nostalgia sells the fact is there is one really good reason there is no longer a Hartford Whalers team. No one went to the games. Hartford is really no closer to getting another team than they were back in 1997. The merch sells – back in 2010, it was the best selling merchandise in the NHL and is consistently in the top 5 – but if you want to catch an NHL game in new England, you’re going to the TD Garden in the shadow of the Zakim Bridge in Boston. That’s where you’ll see the 2014 President’s trophy winner Bruins as they make their months long playoff run to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
So, everyone loves a good story - even if that story isn't exactly non-fiction. The Whale is dead; Long Live the Whale.
Gooooooooooooooooood morning. Welcome Gabbers and others to my NASCAR updates and other fast stuff. It's Mustang's 50th anniversary. Love that car. Well, the old ones from the 60's. They rock.
Like this one. It's so prettttttttttty. That's a if I win the lottery car. Yup. Dreaming....
Geoff Bodine drove some Mustang in name only (as far as I see it) as the pace car for the Darlington race this Saturday night. If they hadn't told me it was a Stang, I'd never have noticed. Beautiful color and a special edition for the anniversary but a Stang it is not.
So they were testing Goodyear tires at Michigan this week. Drivers were reaching speeds between 212 & 217 mph. That's scary bad fast territory. NASCAR is already making plans for down sizing the motors for next year. Restrictor plates aren't enough.
Awesome Bill from Dawsonville has a son. A very talented one. He missed his Sr prom to run in the Nationwide Series on Friday night. He won. That's 2 in a row for this young man of 18. Count me as jealous.
Kyle Petty says his dad, Richard is doing well since his wife Lynda passed away recently. Every one is taking time staying with him to help him through this rough patch. The Petty's are thankful for all the prayers and well wishes.
Gene Haas who is 1/2 of Stewart Haas Racing has been granted his F1 license. Haas owns the biggest CNC Machining business in the western world. So money is not a big deal. So that's 4 NASCAR teams and an F1 team under the Haas name. Even with sponsors that's a tall order.
I was reading about this Heartbleed virus that's busy in Internetland. According to what I read you should see a green lock with https. in your address bar if a site is infected. Well, my Mac doesn't show anything but my Lenovo laptop with Windows 7 does. The Gab and Craigslist are free of this scourge but Yahoo, Twitter & Youtube have it. My virus scanner on my Lenovo didn't say anything to me about a possibility of me picking up this virus by hanging on Twitter during the race. What up with that? That stupid virus scanner is constantly bugging me about other stuff but not that Heartbleed thing. I need to read more on this subject. Any body got an explanation?
TEXAS WRAP UP
It was another rain out last week. Worked 6am to 12pm and drove over to my parents to watch the race on Monday. Got there just in time to see Dale Jr get too low on the track and fold his nose under when his splitter touched the grass. He said it was his fault. He was watching the car in front of him. So 12 laps in and Dale Jr is done for the day.
Johnson got nailed by the debris from Dales car and he had issues for the rest of the race.
Stewart had the pole and led the first 77 laps and then Keselowski took over.
Keselowski had issues at the start of the race but managed to get it fixed. The jet dryer drove by and blew into his wheel well and messed up his hood. The team duct taped it down and away he went. His team mate Logano led more laps than him but it was a good day for Penske.
Harvick had a fast car but on lap 28 a puff of smoke spelled doom for his day. Ouch.
Hamlin, Gordon, and Ky Bu all led a lot of laps but Logano led the most at 108 and he led the last lap for the win.
Top 15 Finishers - Logano - Gordon - Ky Bu - Vickers - Larson - Biffle - Kenseth - Bowyer - Menard - Stewart - Kahne - Almirola - Hamlin - Edwards - Keselowski
DARLINGTON WRAP UP
The race lived up to it's nickname. The Lady in black. Lots of cars with the Darlington stripe. I laugh because they always count the cars that scrape the wall. I'm really sorry for the guy that has to paint all that wall. It was another Gentleman start your tempers kind of race. Paint trading on the track and barb trading on the radio. But your veterans did prevail as usual. Except Hamlin. He should just quit. I picked him up in one of my leagues and this is the last time. He had a top 10 run going which should've been a top 5 and he blew it on the last pit stop by speeding on pit road and then he wrecked.
Harvick had the pole and dominated the race and won the race. There were 2 Green/White Checkers. The first one saw Harvick hook up to Dale Jr's bumper and push him to the lead. Ku Bu wrecked off Bowyer's bumper before they got to the white flag so it was Green/White Checkers #2. Dale Jr takes the lead again but Harvick passed him easily.
UNOFFICIAL TOP 15 FINISH - Harvick - Dale Jr - Johnson - Kenseth - Biffle - Ky Bu - Gordon - Larson - Stewart - Newman - Dillon - Bowyer - Edwards - Ambrose - Allmendinger
So it was a full moon this weekend. The crazies were out in full force too. On the race track and where I work. Very very rough work week for me. People were absolutely nutso. I'm thinking I need medication so I can deal with them. Hopefully they all settle down till next week.
It was 70 on Saturday and no wind. Actually quite nice. Supposed to be 80 today. Can't wait. Maybe I'll sit on my mom's porch all day. WOOOO HOOOOOOO!!!! I hope all the Gabbers and others enjoy the great weather today too. Well wishes to all.
Yankees pitcher Micheal Pineda said it was dirt but high definition had a different view. Pine tar has become one of the popular go-to adhesives pitchers use to improve their grip, but it appears for this type of cheating, baseball is willing to look the other way. In this game Thursday night, Red Sox fans were beside themselves with the observation of the pine tar on Pineda's hand, but the players on the Red Sox?...not so much. Big Papi dismissed the "cheating" episode as no big deal and the umpires could not be bothered nor apparently will MLB take any action even in the face of such compelling visual evidence.
Certain forms of cheating have a bit of a romantic place in baseball history...that is non-PED cheating that is. That form of cheating still brings a visceral response from most baseball fans...who is the rightful home run king, Bonds or Aaron? That can set off a lively bar debate, but bring up Gaylord Perry, who is in the Hall of Fame and you might get a whole different debate. Pitches still use a variety of substances from the afore mentioned pine tar to an interesting concoction of Bull Frog sunscreen mixed with rosin...a popular grip enhancement used around the major leagues. Other ball modifications include various methods of scuffing the ball from sandpaper to belt buckles to catchers equipement. The most obvious move today which used to be a clear no-no was putting fingers to the mouth...now a routine move by pitchers. It is interesting to note that the spitball used to be legal. In fact, it was such an advantage, no pitcher of any value took the mound without being able to throw one...this in the the early 1900's. By around 1917, there were too many head injuries from beanings due to the spitter and it was banned. Obviously it did not hold or Gaylord Perry might not have 300 wins...so while no pitcher today that I know of throws the classic spitball, it is clear that the art of pitching still includes a little doctoring of the ball...and isn't that just part of baseball's charm?!
And some other news...
While my friends from Detroit get to celebrate 23 consecutive years in the playoffs including multiple Cup runs, the Capitals modest 7 year run is over coming up just a few points shy of what was needed. There seems to be plenty of blame to go around...Ovechkin's defense or lack thereof, Mike Green's defense or lack thereof, Adam Oates coaching style (the Caps have played about 50 games under Oates where they have scored 2 goals or less...they have won 1 of those games, none in '13-'14...there's a stat for you). For me, I put the blame on the ownership for allowing George McPhee to continue as GM for almost 20 years with no championships and no title appearance since 1997. Ovechkin has not had one playoff run with a true championship goalie or a dominant shut-down defenseman, two key Cup ingredients. It was reported in the news this week that player agents hate McPhee putting the Caps out of the running for premium talent before the bidding even starts. Time for some changes here in DC.
Well, I am going to enjoy some beautiful spring weather, hit some golf balls and then relax and watch Bubba try to grab a second Green Jacket this weekend...hope you have a great weekend too!
Hello Gabbers, I apologize for first hand for this blog, I had been planning to start writing it a little earlier, but just plain old forgot to get it started. Spring has finally arrived in Michigan, and with Spring in Michigan comes the expectation of the Red Wings continuing their streak of playoff appearances. I admit that I thought a month ago this team was dead in the water, but for some reason as the calendar turns from March to April, the Red Wings seem to step up. I am not a fan Sid the Crybaby, and Malkin and the rest of the crybabies known as the Penguins, but it looks like that is who the Wings will be facing in the first round of the playoffs. No matter, cause the kids don't know no better. This total lack of respect or knowledge of others, has probably been the reason the Wings have continued professional sports longest playoff run of 23 consecutive years.
Not many teams or any teams can say that they have been in the playoffs for 23 straight years, I guess this makes up for all the years when I was a teenager of them sucking so badly, and pretty much the laughing stock of the NHL. I thought the Wings needed an infusion of youth after they lost to the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals, and maybe the likes of Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco, Tomas Tatar, Luke Glendenning and Riley Sheahan was exactly what the Wings needed. All the above were members of the Calder Cup Champion Grand Rapid Griffins, and are probably at least a year ahead of schedule. Sure they make mistakes that cost the team goals, but for the most part they are more sound defensively than some of the veterans. This kind of reminds me of the influx of youth that occurred in the late 80's, early 90's, when a young Lidstrom came to Detroit, and we all know that he will be in Toronto next to Stevie Y when his time to be inducted comes. Mr. I. is a pretty smart businessman, and this infusion of youth is part of the plan, spend money on the Tigers, while building a contender who will compete on a regular basis for the Stanley Cup by the time the new arena is built. So far the plan seems to be working, now we will wait and see.....
Since I work in the grocery business, I have the pleasure of seeing a magazine devoted to Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. Today while out running my errands, I heard that Joan Jett was inducting Nirvana into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I was never personally into Grunge, but I loved listening to Nirvana.
Noah and Taylor are wrapping up their Spring Break, and last week I went to Noah's P/T conference which like always turned out as I expected. The kid's pretty damn smart, not much to work with or on with him for the rest of the year, he is ready for the 3rd grade. Taylor is my underachiever to an extent, she could do much better if she applied herself, but I am waiting for her ever so patiently to realize her full potential.
Not to stir the pot with the Red Sox nation, but does anyone really care that you are in New York facing the Yankees. I hope you whip them good, but last check the Yank's were winning 3-0.
NASCAR is heading to Darlington, miss Q in our fantasy leagues she is damn knowledgeable on the Sport.
Another year of the Pistons underachieving and getting a decent coach fired once again. Some day they will fill the Palace again, but not until they become consistent.
What the hell is going on in MLB this year? So many pitchers having Tommy John, this is not a good trend, maybe teams should consider studying why this is happening, and just maybe they will figure out how to prevent it. There has to be a pitch that is tearing the UCL, Medlin, Beachy, Moore, Griffin, and the list goes on and on.
B.O.B. what's up with "The Freak," Goldschmidt owns him.......
Well that's all I got, have a great week and thanks for stopping by...
The Baseball season is a week and a half old and lots has happened since the first pitch. I watched opening day ceremonies at Fenway and like everything Red Sox it was over the top. Families of the Marathon Bombing Victims brought the rings out to the owners. When each guy receiving his ring they all had the same reaction they looked down at it like a Little Leaguer and his first trophy. It was very cool. I got choked up when Firefighters from Engine 33 and Ladder 15 came in and shook hands with the Sox two firefighters from the BFD were killed fighting a fire. I teared up when Lt Walsh's (one of the fallen fire fighters) wife and kids were at the end of the line and each Red Sox hugged her and made a huge deal out of the little one she was carrying.
The Red Sox are 4 and 5 to start the season, getting swept by the Brewers at the 2014 Fenway Debut. Why are they opening at home against a National League Team?
There were double wins at UConn has the Huskies beat Kentucky and the Lady Huskies beat Notre Dame. I think people were surprised to see UConn win, especially John Caliperi. He and his Wildcats had there chances but couldn’t take advantage.
The Masters won’t have Tiger this year. I bet you haven’t heard about that every waking moment over the last couple of weeks. The Masters is the best human drama in sports especially if it’s tight on Sunday. It’s not so much the golf but more the pressure on each guy to make each shot. The excitement is different than a team sport it’s more psychological sometimes than pure school and a major always seems to capture it more than any other sport. It’s human drama at it’s best.
Hey they almost found the airplane maybe but it’s in a whole lot of water.Just can’t believe they haven’t found that yet. There is something wrong here and we may never find the answer it’s a shame. For all those families,they have been given a bunch of bull shit so far.
Teams are Jockeying for position
The Boston Bruins and the St Louis Blues are battling for the Presidents Cup for the best record in the league and how ice throughout the playoffs.. both teams have three games left the Bruins have a 114 pts and the Blues have 111. Both teams have played some exceptional hockey this year but I’m a Black and Gold guy instead of the Blue Gold.
LIL Warriors Report
Yes after getting their butts kicked last month in tournament the boys got hot in their last few games. They won their first round playoff game as the 4th seed in their conference..
They had to play two games on Saturday to win the Conference. They played at 8am while their soon to be opponents played at 8:20 am on the other rink at the same facility.The winners would return for the conference championship at 1pm.
The boys came out smoking in the morning game winning 5-2. Nick the goalie was awesome and the netminder's best friend the goal post helped out big time.
The game was at 1, traffic on I 93 North was awful getting back to the rink as a work crew filled potholes on the Interstate. Players came in one by one even coach Glen got stuck in traffic. The boys went down 1-0 in the first period. They tied it early in the second then went down 2-1 going into the third. They scored quick. And with 4:48 left Lil Craig scored the game winner. Gloves, sticks helmets every where. The Boys got trophies and hats saying Valley League Champs.
The Playoff format changed this year with an extra game on Sunday for the League Championship for that Division. They played Woburn who gave them trouble all year . They lost twice to them, beat them once and tied them. The boys took the early lead and held on; they were up 2-0 then Woburn scored making it 2-1, then the boys were up 3-1 and held on for a 4-2 win and the big piece of Hardware their version of the Cup.
Lil Lanz almost had the first goal, he couldn’t get a rebound home and the goalie made a stick save while on the Ice.
Special Thanks go out to the Coaches Glenn, Dennis, and Dave who made it fun for the kids all year and three of the nicest guys you ever want to meet.
The parents who we bonded with giving up every weekend and many weeknights since September. we became a group that truly enjoyed each others company.
Finally Thanks to the 12 boys and 1 girl. who spent countless hours on the ice through practices, skill session and many playing for two teams. There hard work and dedication.paid off
Parents and coaches explained to them that Championships are rare in ones sporting life so enjoy it. They have been the talk of the town at soccer, Lax, and baseball. The kids are enjoying the crap out of it.
Lil Lanz skating hard up the Boards
Team watching opponents getting runner up trophy
Team getting the Trophy
Typical Hockey Champ Photo Lil lanz doing his Hulk Hogan in Back
LIL Lanz in Locker Room with trophy, He had already took his shoulder and elbow pads off