With Monday’s report indicating a state of uncertainty between the New York Islanders and their home venue, Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, the governor of Connecticut and the mayor of its capital city saw an opportunity to bring the NHL back home after an almost 20-year hiatus.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin sent a letter Friday to Islanders ownership in an effort to bring the team to the city with a population of approximately 125,000 people.
Malloy and Bronin offered the XL Center as an interim venue for the team beginning in the 2018-2019 season. They vowed to improve the arena, which is home to the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, to “today’s NHL standards.” The XL Center was also the home of Hartford’s previous NHL franchise, the Whalers.
The duo also boasted about Hartford’s business acumen and the average salary of the local population, stating the city is in “an NHL market with more Fortune 500 companies than many NHL cities” and that 35 percent of households within an hour of the city make at least $100,000 annually.
Islanders executives were reportedly unhappy with the obstructed views and poor ice conditions in Brooklyn, while Barclays Center officials reportedly feel they can make more money without the team as a tenant.
The Whalers moved to Raleigh, North Carolina and became the Carolina Hurricanes in time for the 1997-1998 season. The Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006.
Even though the Whalers only posted three winning seasons during their 18-year existence in Hartford, nostalgia for Whalers merchandise has grown over the last two decades. Like the old saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.