Around New England

New Hartford NHL Team Unlikely But Possible Under One Scenario, UConn Hockey Coach Says

Hartford is unlikely to get an expansion National Hockey League team, but if one of the New York teams ever moves it’s possible it could come to Connecticut, UConn’s hockey coach said.

Mike Cavanaugh, asked whether a successor to the old Hartford Whalers could ever come to the state’s capital city, noted that there are four current NHL teams within about a two-hour drive of Hartford. (Those are the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and New Jersey Devils.)

He said Seattle and Quebec City seem more likely candidates to draw a 30th NHL team, if the league expands.

“I think it’s going to be really hard for the NHL to come back to Hartford,” Cavanaugh said during a Hartford Courant podcast published Thursday. (His comments on this topic start at about the 12:00 mark.)

The Hartford Whalers played in the former World Hockey Association from 1972 to 1979, and then in the NHL from 1979 to 1997. They often butted heads with the Boston Bruins, before moving south and becoming the Carolina Hurricanes.

“I know that the Whalers were beloved here, and I understand why,” Cavanaugh said. “And I remember those games between the Bruins and the Whalers, it was a great rivalry.”

Cavanaugh suggested that Hartford could conceivably draw an existing NHL team.

“If one of the New York teams wanted to leave – there was some talk about the Islanders — I could see that as a possibility,” Cavanaugh said. “… But I don’t think they’re going to put a fifth franchise in this market.”