Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
This is a team with a lot more history behind them than most realize. Often viewed as one of those boring newer teams, this franchise has witnessed a lot over the years.
The World Hockey Association (WHA) awarded a franchise for a team in the Boston, Massachusetts area. The New England Whalers played their first two and one half years in Boston and West Springfield and then moved to Hartford, Connecticut in January of 1975.
When the WHA merged with the NHL in 1979 the team changed their name to the Hartford Whalers since the NHL already had a team stationed in the New England area – the Boston Bruins.
In October of 1997 the franchise played their first game as the Carolina Hurricanes and lost 4-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning after moving to the state of North Carolina.
Kevin Dineen recorded the first goal for the Carolina Hurricanes; Gordie Roberts scored the first goal for the Hartford Whalers; and Tommy Williams had the first goal for the New England Whalers.
The franchise has enjoyed some success over the years. As the New England Whalers of the WHA the team won the very first Avco World Trophy as the league’s champions in 1973. Since joining the NHL, the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup as the league’s champions in 2006.
Many great players have donned one of the jerseys this franchised has sported over the years, none greater than Mr. Hockey himself – Gordie Howe. The franchise has also seen Bobby Hull, Paul Coffey, Dave Keon, Ron Francis, Rick Ley, Kevin Dineen, Rod Brind’Amour, Eric Staal, Jeff O’Neill, Pat Verbeek, Blaine Stoughton, Ray Ferraro, Mike Rogers, Mark Howe, Mike Liut and Cam Ward.
Retired numbers are number 10 for Ron Francis and number 9 for Gordie Howe. The Hartford Whalers had retired the numbers 2 and 19 for Rick Ley and John McKenzie respectively, but since the team’s move to Carolina the numbers have been put back into circulation.
As the Carolina Hurricanes, awards won by the team include: the 2005-06 Stanley Cup; 2001-02 and 2005-06 Prince of Wales Trophy; the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2005-06 to Cam Ward; the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 2005-06 and 2006-07 to Rod Brind’Amour; the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2001-02 to Ron Francis; the Lady Byng Trophy in 2001-02 to Ron Francis; and the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1997-98 to Peter Karmanos.
With a good mix of veterans and leaders along with some extremely talented young stars this team’s future looks bright. Hopefully they will be able to draw fans and support the team for a long time so that no further moves are necessary.