Wed

31

Jul

2013

Poem: "An Ode to the Hartford Whalers"

Sean Burke
Sean Burke

 

1979–97, Hartford, CT (“Insurance City”)

I

I sing for the Hartford Whalers:
I mourn for a hockey team
that never, like Ahab’s sailors,
dreamed the implausible dream,
or went down as hopeless flailers,
failing in the extreme.
They skated around their rink
and couldn’t exactly sink.

II

In homeroom at age eight,
I studied, with fascination,
facts about my home state.
I worried: our population,
with its glacially slow growth rate,
was the tiniest in the nation
ever to try to support
a team in a big-league sport.

Yet there, in a vision of green,
they were and seemed to belong—
Shanahan, Burke, Dineen
(I number them all in my song)—
till, as I neared thirteen,
the facts proved all of them wrong.
The team would keep playing, but
not in Connecticut.

 

III

My own youth hockey days
had ended two years prior.
I’d set no ice ablaze
as a “Northern Connecticut Flyer”;
nor, in my first growth phase,
had I shot all that much higher.
Still I stood tall and roared
whenever my Whalers scored…

The victory jingle, “Brass Bonanza,”
fills the stadium, gives the fans a
thrill. To this extravaganza
I devote a special stanza.

Suddenly hockey hurt:
the Whalers bowed, withdrew;
sports, in a final spurt,
outgrew me. Shortly I grew
out of my Whalers shirt,
my state—my family, too
(the fabric had started shrinking
and our population sinking).

 

IV

These days I live down south,
but I’m getting a chill again—
the draft I felt in youth,
joining the league of men.
Though all the teeth in my mouth
are accounted for, now as then,
in dreams they are missing, falling.
My team is my family, brawling.

And Hartford runs a correction
in small print in the Courant’s
editorial section:
“There’s no such thing as insurance.
We lied for your protection.
Innocence builds endurance.
But lost is lost is lost:
now wake up and eat the cost.”

Connecticut seems to remain.
My family has mostly gone.
I squint from a homebound train
at the capitol’s snowbound lawn,
count each quaint weathervane,
assess what the weather’s done…
But the place disclaims all claims.
I’ve stopped watching hockey games:

how can a grown man root
when the home team may just duck
out of its stadium, scoot
out of reach like a puck—
and home is no absolute,
either? With any luck,
love learns to improvise
on thin blades, on thin ice.

 

V

The town once threw a parade
when the Whalers survived the first
round of the playoffs. They played
decently—not their worst—
then lost as soon as they’d made
the point that they weren’t cursed.
This happened when I was one;
then the glory days were done.

But what is athletic grace?
And who are sports’ true heroes?
I watch a Zamboni trace
its Zen, concentric zeroes
on pure white mental space.
Within that zone of clear O’s,
one small black speck will go on
eluding me like a koan.

I sing for the team I loved
in a key that is cheerfully minor.
I mourn for the year they moved,
left my state with a shiner
(though the blow was politely gloved),
and settled in Carolina,
a market not quite as small.
The next year, they won it all.

 

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Sat

27

Jul

2013

On This Date, 1972: Ted Green Named First Whalers Captain

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Tue

23

Jul

2013

The Street.com: What Happens to a City When it Loses a Pro Sports Franchise.

The Brass Bonanza played. Kevin Dineen, Ron Francis and the little ball of hate that was Pat Verbeek made life miserable for opponents. Even Gordie Howe lent the team some pedigree during its days in the World Hockey Association and first years in the NHL.

 

Life was good for hockey fans in Hartford, until a guy named Peter Karmanos came into town in 1994, bought the Whalers, traded stud prospect Chris Pronger for a disgruntled Brendan Shanahan and started grousing about the lack of corporate support and the constraints of the Hartford Civic Center. Karmanos threatened to move the team if he didn't get 11,000 season ticket holders and a new arena. Despite a swell of fan support for the "Save The Whale" ticket buying campaign and negotiations for a new $150 million facility, Karmanos announced in 1997 that he planned to move the team to North Carolina.

 

Full Article

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Tue

23

Jul

2013

Video: Gordie Howe's Last NHL Goal

Gordie Howe scores his final NHL goal vs. Montreal in the 1980 NHL playoffs.  John Garrett got cheated out of an assist.

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Sat

13

Jul

2013

On This Date, 1994: The Whalers Sign Free Agent Jimmy Carson

Jimmy Carson
Jimmy Carson, Whalers
July 14, 1994|By JEFF JACOBS; Courant Staff Writer

 

He has been traded for some of hockey's marquee names in deals that shook the foundation of the sport.

 

But unrestricted free agent Jimmy Carson was the only one moving Wednesday when he signed a two- year, plus option deal with the Whalers for $2.1 million total.

 

t is a sign of the times and a sign of his sometimes inconsistent play that the Whalers did not have to surrender anyone in return for Carson, a center who turns 26 next week.

 

But Whalers general manager Jim Rutherford also is convinced he got a ``legitimate 40-goal scorer'' for a team sorely needing goals.

 

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Wed

10

Jul

2013

Coach Quenneville and Friends with the Stanley Cup at Lurie's Children's Hospital in Chicago

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Tue

09

Jul

2013

America's Team

Megan Fox Whalers gear
Megan Fox rocks Whalers gear

Megan Fox Rocks Hartford Whalers T-shirt

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Thu

04

Jul

2013

Alumni Sighting: Sylvain Cote

Sylvain Cote
Sylvain Cote Hauls in 202 Pound Tuna

Syvain Cote with 202 lbs Bluefin tuna on the Espadon yesterday.

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Tue

02

Jul

2013

Christian Thomas Peddled to Habs

Christian Thomas
Christian Thomas

The Rangers have kept busy on the trade market in the past week. After dealing for defensemen Justin Falk and Danny Syvret, they announced another deal today: forward Christian Thomas has been dealt to the Canadiens for winger Danny Kristo.

 

Thomas -- the son of former NHLer Steve Thomas -- played one game with the Rangers last year to go along with 73 contests with the Connecticut Whale, finishing with 19 goals and 35 points. He was called up in February and, coincidentally, faced his future franchise in the Blueshirts' 3-0 loss to the Canadiens. The diminutive (he's listed at 5-foot-9, 170) forward had two shots on goal in 12:46 of ice time.

 

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Tue

02

Jul

2013

Kris Newbury Traded to Flyers

Kris Newbury
Kris Newbury

The Rangers pulled off a minor trade to acquire defensive depth for the second straight day on Monday, acquiring 5-11, 205-pound defenseman Danny Syvret from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for veteran depth center and agitator Kris Newbury.
 
Syvret, 28, has played 59 regular season games for the Oilers, Ducks and Flyers since Edmonton selected him in third round of the 2005 draft (81st overall). But he has not played in the NHL since the 2010-11 season, when he appeared in his only 10 career NHL playoff games for the Flyers.

 

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