If Winnipeg Can Support a NHL Team, Why Not Hartford?

This morning True North Sports and Entertainment is expected to announce its purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers and its intention to move the franchise to Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Naturally, Hartford Whalers fans are asking whether this move bodes well for the return of the beloved Hartford Whalers.  Susan Bigelow at CT New Junkie has written an excellent article on this topic.  Here is an excerpt:

The move, when and if it happens, is something that will make those NHL fans left in Greater Hartford sit up and take notice for a couple of reasons. First, the move would reverse a decades-long trend of northern teams moving south to cities that rarely ever see ice. Minnesota, Hartford and Winnipeg lost teams to Dallas, Raleigh and Phoenix (Quebec City’s team moved to Denver, which is at least in the mountains). Second, Winnipeg has fewer people in its metropolitan area than Hartford does, and would be a smaller TV market. Third, Winnipeg’s arena actually has a smaller capacity for hockey than the XL Center, and would be by far the smallest arena in the NHL.

In her article, Ms. Bigelow also makes the major distinction between Hartford and Winnipeg: Winnipeg has a new arena; Hartford has the worn-out XL Center.  Click here to read Ms. Bigelow’s article in its entirety

Connecticut Sports Law Featured Columnist Dan Canavan has also covered the potential return of the Whalers in detail:

Why Not Us? – Five Things Hartford Needs to Be Major League Again

Making the Case for Bringing the NHL Back to Hartford

Whale Bowl Brings Bitter Cold, Uncertain Effect on Hartford Hockey


  1. Blair Ronzel says:

    While Ms. Bigelow’s article is well intentioned, her claim that the outdated XL Center is 40 years makes me wonder 1)her relative youth of age and 2)her lack of investigative skills. The Civic Center/XL is a rebuild from a prior structure that collapsed…the current building was constructed in time for the 1979-80 season. While it is older in the context of the NHL…its hardly in the 40 year old range.

  2. Blair, the Civic Center opened in 1975. Althought the seating capactiy was expanded after the roof collapse, the majority of the building stayed the same. So, it’s 36 1/2 years old. I think we should give Bigelow a pass. Thanks for your post. You may enjoy https://ctsportslaw.com/2010/01/11/howard-baldwin-brings-the-whalers-to-hartford-%e2%80%93-35-years-later/

  3. A lot of this depends on the economy, and how many other NHL owners decide they can’t afford to sustain the losses required by the current CBA’s salary floor. If the 2012 CBA doesn’t solve this issue — the only way I can see it is by some kind of enhanced revenue sharing — then there could be a number of teams available.

    In that scenario, a team is almost certain to go to Quebec City’s 60-year old Colisée. And if you can put a NHL team in a 60-year-old building, why not a 40-year-old building?

    As for Winnipeg, their ownership has a net family worth of $23 Billion. David Thompson could support the Jets all by himself. It may well be that the determining factor in all this is not a good building or fan support, but deep, deep pockets able to sustain a team through the lean years that every team goes through.

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  1. […] the announcement that the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers will move to Winnipeg, many fans of former Hartford Whalers asked “why not Hartford?”  A few days later, Hartford drew the fourth-highest TV rating in the US for Game 1 of the Stanley […]

  2. […] The conversation regarding the NHL’s return to Winnipeg, and whether that move bodes well for …, has been going strong for almost a week.  Now Howard Baldwin, former owner of the NHL Whalers and present chairman of Whalers Sports & Entertainment (which runs the Connecticut Whale) has weighed in.  Here’s an except from Baldwin’s op-ed in the Hartford Business Journal: Like Hartford, Winnipeg was an original World Hockey Association city. Like Hartford, Winnipeg was one of four WHA franchises that merged with the NHL in 1981. Like Hartford, Winnipeg lost its NHL team in the mid-‘90s. And like Hartford, Winnipeg developed a plan and a passion to get back to the NHL. […]

  3. […] The NHL’s return to Winnipeg has naturally resulted in conversations concerning whether this move… more likely.  Former Whalers owner Howard Baldwin, currently running the Connecticut Whale, believes that Winnipeg has provided a model for Hartford.  I was reminded of a great article by Dan Canavan in November 2009 on this topic.  The reemergence of Howard Baldwin is the most significant event since the publication of  the article, and based upon his success last year, he should not be underestimated.  However, Hartford is still missing the key ingredient - a new building. […]

  4. […] like Winnipeg (which will get the Atlanta Thrashers after losing the Jets several years ago), getting another NHL team.  I hope Hartford gets another shot - it would be good for New England hockey and […]

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