On April 13, 1997 the Hartford Whalers of the National Hockey League played their final game in Connecticut. The team moved to North Carolina (you know, hockey country) and changed their name to the Hurricanes. Though the team has been gone for over a decade the Hartford Whalers Booster Club has remained active.
In the years immediately following the Whalers’ departure from
Hartford the Booster Club was a modest group. The main goal of
the club was to keep the name of the Whalers alive in central
Connecticut. They created a scholarship with the Hartford
Foundation for Charitable Giving to be awarded in perpetuity.
The group takes trips to other cities to watch NHL games. They
also began a new tradition. Every April 13th the group holds a
“Fanniversary” in remembrance of the team’s last game.
But as time passed, the Booster Club dwindled in numbers. With no
team to support the group stagnated and their “Fanniversaries”
turned into commiserating sessions.
2005 was a turning point for the Booster Club. The group decided
to combine that year’s Fanniversary with a “Bring Back the NHL”
rally. They invited several friendly politicians to speak and held a reception at a popular downtown bar. The response was overwhelming. Over 400 people attended.
At around that time, developer Larry Gottesdiener began talking publicly of plans to build a new arena, buy an NHL team, and relocate it to Hartford. Of course, public funds would be needed in the construction of a new arena necessitating political support. The Booster Club immediately got squarely behind this new cause.
The Booster Club is circulating petitions, lobbying state and local politicians, and
enlisting support from anyone who will listen in their effort to help developer Larry Gottesdiener build a new arena in the hopes it will attract an NHL team.
Whether they’re testifying before the State Legislature or arguing over the best way to put a Whaler sticker on a kazoo (yes, they really did that!),Bleeding Greenchronicles their struggle.