The willingness by Carolina Hurricanes owner Thomas Dundon to embrace the team’s heritage as the Hartford Whalers has been both profitable and overdue. Unfortunately, some back in Connecticut seem to think this is going to lead to a rekindling of old flames from somewhere back in the long ago.
To paraphrase Kenny Loggins (yes, Kenny Loggins): That’s what a fool believes.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has sent a letter to Dundon inviting him to bring the team to Hartford for a regular-season game or, and this is completely true, an outdoor game at the University of Connecticut’s football stadium.
Not to step on Dundon’s toes here, but there’s an easy answer to this: Thanks, but no thanks. And please, Hartford, stop. Enough.
If the Hurricanes ever go back to Hartford, it’ll be for a preseason game that will be, in all honesty, a chance to hoover some money out of the pockets of long-suffering Whalers fans desperate to see NHL hockey again. And Hartford would be lucky to get that.
It’s easy to understand how Dundon’s willingness to embrace the team’s heritage as the Whalers and sell all kinds of green-and-white merchandise to fans nostalgic for what was – and we can all agree on this – one of the great logos in sports, would lead Gov. Malloy to think that the Hurricanes would be interested in going further.
But that’s not going to happen. And the politicians of Connecticut who keep baiting their constituents with Whalers pipe dreams aren’t doing anyone any favors.
When the state unveiled Whalers license plates last month, Connecticut’s lieutenant governor urged fans to purchase them “because maybe then they will come back.”
This team has a new home, new fans, a new tradition, its own retired jerseys, a superfan governor of its own and a Stanley Cup. The Whalers aren’t going back, not for a meaningful game. And there’s zero chance the Hurricanes would ever want to play an outdoor game anywhere but across the street at Carter-Finley Stadium – or, potentially, as the visiting team in the Blackhawks annual outdoor game.
How would playing in Hartford, especially outdoors, help build this franchise? How would that help hockey in North Carolina? It would not.
So thanks for the offer, but on behalf of the Hurricanes and their fans, we’ll pass. It’s our team now. Connecticut politicians pandering to Whalers fans isn’t good for anyone – least of all Whalers fans.
Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock