Bleeding Green

A History of the Hartford Whalers

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Pub Date 01 Nov 2022 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2022

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The Hartford Whalers were a beloved hockey team from their founding in 1972 as the New England Whalers. Playing in the National Hockey League’s smallest market and arena after the World Hockey Association merger in 1979, they struggled in a division that included both the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens—but their fans were among the NHL’s most loyal. In 1995 new owners demanded a new arena and, when it fell through, moved the team to North Carolina, rebranding as the Hurricanes.

Unlike fellow franchises that have folded or relocated with little fanfare, the Whalers’ fan base stayed with the team, which remains as popular as ever. Even though more than two decades have come and gone since Connecticut’s only professional sports team moved, nobody has truly forgotten the Whalers, their history, and their unique—and still highly profitable—logo. And while the NHL continues to thrive without them, their impact stretches far beyond the ice and into an entirely different cultural arena.

Christopher Price grew up in Connecticut as a diehard Whalers fan, experiencing firsthand the team’s bond with the community. Drawing from all aspects of the team’s past, he tells the uncensored history of Connecticut’s favorite professional sports franchise. Part sports history and part civic history, Bleeding Green shows vividly why the Whalers, despite an inglorious past and a future that unexpectedly vanished, remain firmly embedded in the American milieu and have had a lasting impact on not only the NHL but the sports landscape as a whole.

The Hartford Whalers were a beloved hockey team from their founding in 1972 as the New England Whalers. Playing in the National Hockey League’s smallest market and arena after the World Hockey...

Advance Praise

“The Hartford Whalers have been gone for a quarter century, which is longer than their stay in Connecticut’s capital city. Neither seems possible. Our NHL team left such deep tracks from the mid-1970s through the later 1990s that it seems like they were here for fifty years and departed maybe a decade ago. The jersey is still a strong seller to hockey fans even far from the Nutmeg State, and why wouldn’t it be? The logo remains one of the best in pro sports history. The green and blue colors still resonate. And ‘Brass Bonanza’? No catchier fight song exists.”—Chris Berman

“The staying power of the Hartford Whalers and the brand is very intriguing and fascinating. Current NHL teams are probably envious of the Whalers’ brand ‘stickiness.’ Christopher Price breaks down why in this buried treasure of hockey history.”—John Buccigross, ESPN

“The Hartford Whalers have proved as unforgettable as the opening bars of ‘Brass Bonanza.’ Now here’s Christopher Price, reviving a story that is fun, fascinating, and nearly impossible to put down.”—Dan Wetzel, national columnist for Yahoo Sports

“The Hartford Whalers have been gone for a quarter century, which is longer than their stay in Connecticut’s capital city. Neither seems possible. Our NHL team left such deep tracks from the...

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EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781496222008
PRICE $36.95 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC!

Bleeding Green recounts the story of the Hartford Whalers NHL franchise. As the NHL struggled to compete against the rise of other professional sports, like American football and basketball, the NHL expanded the teams beyond the original six to include new markets. Hartford, called the Bermuda Triangle of sports between New York and Boston, carried the Whalers for nearly twenty years through growth and struggles, as well as playoff runs. This book recounts the people, trivia, and stats that made the Whalers a storybook franchise.

Likes: Full disclosure, I’m not one to read a book about sports. However, as a passionate Carolina Hurricanes fan who loves retro-Whalers night, I wanted to give this book a read. There were some interesting pieces of trivia and quotes from former Whalers players and staff. The stories were interesting and gave a glimpse into the world of hockey in the 70s and 80s.

Comments: I like the book. Never having read a sports book before, I didn’t see much of a story throughout. Bleeding Green is more of a timeline of trivia and quotes, which was fun.

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Even though the team has not been in existence for 25 years, the Hartford Whalers still bring back great memories for hockey fans. This may sound puzzling since the team only won one playoff series during their 18-year history in the National Hockey League (NHL). Their unique logo – a whale tail placed strategically above a “W” in green, blue and white – makes Whalers vintage hockey merchandise the best selling items for any seller in that market. The history of the team, including their time as the New England Whalers in the World Hockey Association (WHA) is the topic of this book by Christopher Price.
Readers who are looking for a detailed expose on why the Whalers are so fondly remembered and why their merchandise sells so well won’t find it in this book. While Price does touch on that topic in the final chapter, the bulk of the book is a detailed history of the team both on and off the ice. This is the case for not only their NHL years, in which the Whalers became and still remain the only professional sports team base in Connecticut, but also their mostly successful years in the WHA.
No matter which era is covered, Price does a very good job of informing the reader of their on-ice success (or lack thereof), the moves made by the front office and the business side of the team’s operations as well. All three of these areas are covered in excellent detail. This is especially true of the latter because those stories were the most colorful. Part of this was due to the financial instability of the WHA – the Whalers were considered to be the most stable of the franchises in this league, but even they had issues, mainly due to needing to share the Boston Garden with the NHL’s Bruins.
There are many interesting aspects in the team’s history that seems to tug at the heart of Whalers fans. These include the trades of popular players like Ron Francis and Mike Luit, the team’s goal song “Brass Bonanza” and even how the community pulled together when the roof of the Hartford Civic Center collapsed and the team temporarily played its home games in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Those are just a few of the many aspects of the very interesting history of a hockey team that may not have enjoyed much success in the NHL (it should be noted that the Whalers won the first WHA championship in 1973 and faced the Winnipeg Jets in the finals in 1978) but certainly has won a place in the hearts of many hockey fans, especially those in Connecticut. This book is a very good source of information for the Whalers and is recommended for anyone who still has attachments, for whatever reason, to the team.
I wish to thank University of Nebraska Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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