The Whalers played their final home game 26 years ago today
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - April 13, 1997 will always be the day that professional hockey fans remember as the day the NHL left the State of Connecticut.
The Hartford Whalers defeated the Tampa Bay Lighting 2-1 in that final game 26 years ago, before they left the capital city to become the Carolina Hurricanes.
The franchise did not earn a Stanley Cup. It accumulated a couple of conference championships and four division championships over its time as both the New England, then the Hartford, Whalers.
The team was never considered a success in the NHL. It recorded only three winning seasons in its 18 years in the league.
It made the playoffs eight times and won only one series.
Hartford was considered the smallest American market in the NHL, and its location between the much larger markets of New York and Boston adversely impacted the team’s marketability.
Since the franchise became the Hurricanes in Raleigh, NC, it won a Stanley Cup in the 2005-2006 season, netted two conference championships, and earned five division championships.
Professional hockey still exists in Connecticut, albeit minor league.
The Hartford Wolfpack play in the XL Center. There’s also the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and the National Women’s Hockey League team the Connecticut Whale.
The Wolfpack are the affiliate of the New York Rangers.
College hockey has also captured fandom.
The Quinnipiac University men’s hockey team earned its first ever NCAA championship this year. In fact, goalie Yaniv Perets signed with the Hurricanes on Wednesday.
Yale University also has an NCAA championship that it earned in 2013.
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