Whalers Fans and Our New Name


By Elizabeth J. Normen

(c) Connecticut Explored Inc. Fall 2009

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Welcome to the new Connecticut Explored, the magazine of Connecticut history. You may notice we’ve renamed this column (which was formerly the publisher’s letter) Hog River Journal. That’s our way of keeping our original name, of which many of you and all of us remain fond, alive.

We’re excited to be publishing under our new name, which provides a larger arena in which to continue uncovering and discovering the Connecticut story. And that’s perfect for this issue, which is all about sports—sports performed in arenas of all kinds, including velodromes, bowls, rinks, and stadiums; on roads and down mountain trails. We thank Alan Patterson, who took on the leadership of this issue as a final “capstone” project for his master’s degree in public history at Central Connecticut State University.

The issue was great fun to plan. Editorial team meetings often erupted in gut-busting belly laughs over some member’s story about their favorite team or athletic escapade. I’m not much of a sports fan myself, but I quickly learned that people’s passions about sports run high. For instance, at an editorial board meeting when this issue was in the early stages, state historian Walter Woodward exclaimed, “You can’t have a sports issue without covering the Whalers!” The Whalers, of course, were Connecticut’s World Hockey Association and then National Hockey League team from 1974 to 1997. We agreed with Walt; see our story on page 12.

We knew there were still Whalers fans out there—but how devoted were they, more than a decade after the team left town? And how would we find them? One way we stumbled upon was Facebook (where Connecticut Explored has a page; please “friend” us!) Last spring, within a matter of months, the number of Whalers fans that had linked to a Hartford Whalers Facebook page grew from 17,000 to more than 22,000. (The page does not appear to be an official site of any kind, just an informal fan-run expression of passion for Hartford’s former team.) Facebook also led us to a potential source for images when we posted a query on our own page.

We hope you enjoy this issue as much as we enjoyed planning it. As always, it features great stories—of overcoming adversity through talent and hard work, of persevering in the face of prejudice, and of winning and losing. They are great Connecticut stories. Come explore with us.


Read all of the stories in the Fall 2009 issue

Read all of our Connecticut sports stories on our TOPICS page


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