WHA and NHL team (1972-1997)

In 1971, the World Hockey Association awarded an expansion team in Boston to businessmen Howard Baldwin, John Coburn, Godfrey Wood, and William Barnes. They decided to call the new team the "Whalers" because it contains the letters WHA, and refers to New England's cultural history. The franchise hired former Boston University Coach Jack Kelley to head the team.

The New England Whalers played their first game in the Boston Garden on October 12, 1972 vs. the Philadelphia Blazers. In front of a crowd of 14223, New England rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win the game 4-3. The team finished their first season with a league best 46-30-2 record, and would go on to win the AVCO Cup Finals vs. the Winnipeg Jets in five games. This would be their first and only championship in either league.

After being kicked out of the Boston Garden in 1974, the Whalers move operations to West Springfield during the playoffs. The team, now playing in unfamiliar surroundings, is eliminated from the playoffs by the Chicago Cougars. In 1975, the Whalers moved again, this time into the newly constructed Hartford Civic Center. Their first game was played on January 15, 1975 before a sellout crowd of 10507. In 1977, the Whalers signed the entire Howe family, Gordie, Mark, and Marty, to long term contracts.

The Hartford Civic Center roof collapsed on January 18, 1978 at 4:30 am. Winter storms had built a thick layer of ice and snow, which became too much weight for the roof to hold. While the facility was being repaired, the Whalers played their games in nearby Springfield.

The WHA soon had crippling financial difficulties, and was on the brink of collapse. The NHL, looking to expand its league, jump at the opportunity to add some of the more successful WHA teams. In 1979, New England, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Quebec joined the National Hockey League, and the World Hockey Association completely fell apart soon after. The Whalers, wishing to identify themselves more with the city of Hartford, changed their name to the Hartford Whalers.

After making the playoffs in their first year in the NHL, the Whalers hit a cold streak. They wouldn't return to the playoffs for the next five seasons. during the 85/86 season, Hartford hosted the NHL All-Star Game, and saw their fortunes reversed with a trip to the playoffs.

In 1992, the Whalers introduced a new uniform scheme, replacing the green and gold with navy blue and silver. These new uniforms didn't help them, as they missed the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.

The end of the 1994 season brought the sale of the team to Peter Karmanos. One of his first moves as owner of the team was to petition the city of Hartford for a new arena, citing lack of luxury amenities and new facilities as a reason for the team's lack of profitability. The city rejected the idea, and rumors of a team move begin to circulate almost immediately.

The rumors were confirmed on March 26, 1997. After years of petitioning for the new arena with the city of Hartford and Connecticut governor John Rowland, Peter Karmanos payed $20.6 million off the remaining lease on the Hartford Civic Center, freeing the team to move after the season was concluded. Attendance at Whalers games dropped immediately. The last game played as the Whalers was a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 13.

The team moved to Raleigh, North Carolina and became the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997.

1972/73 - 46-30-2**
1973/74 - 43-31-4*
1974/75 - 43-30-5*
1975/76 - 33-40-7*
1976/77 - 35-40-6*
1977/78 - 44-31-5*
1978/79 - 37-34-9*
1979/80 - 27-34-19*
1980/81 - 24-41-18
1981/82 - 21-41-18
1982/83 - 19-54-7
1983/84 - 28-42-10
1984/85 - 28-42-10
1985/86 - 40-36-4*
1986/87 - 43-30-7*
1987/88 - 35-38-7*
1988/89 - 37-35-5*
1989/90 - 38-33-9*
1990/91 - 31-38-11*
1991/92 - 26-41-13*
1992/93 - 26-41-13
1993/94 - 27-48-9
1994/95 - 19-24-5
1995/96 - 34-39-9
1996/97 - 32-39-11
* - made playoffs
** - won league championship

Hall of Fame Players
Gordie Howe 1977/78-1979/80
Bobby Hull 1979/80
David Keon 1976/77-1981/82

Retired Numbers
#2 - Rick Ley
#9 - Gordie Howe
#19 - John McKenzie


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