For Mark Anderson, the opening game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Boston Bruins was a trip down memory lane.
Anderson on Thursday watched Game 1 closely at a gathering in suburban Hartford, Connecticut, as the Bruins rallied to beat the Hurricanes 5-2.
“Look at that,” Anderson said after Patrice Bergeron’s goal put Boston ahead for good. “It’s just like old times. Two b.s. penalties against us lead to two b.s. Bruins goals.”
If Anderson sounds like a Hurricanes fan, you are not far off the mark. He is in fact a Hartford Whalers fan and was one of several members of the Hartford Whalers Booster Club — yes, it still exists — who watched the game at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Manchester.
Twenty-two years after Hartford’s only major professional franchise left for Raleigh, North Carolina, the bittersweet love of the Whalers is still going strong for some.
Anderson and the others could not resist getting together as the franchise that left them faced their former New England rival. Most said they were rooting for the Hurricanes, even if it caused them to spit up in their mouths a little bit.
“I’ve always said that no matter what, I’d never root for the Bruins and never root for the Rangers,” Dan Narvesen said. “So this would be one of the few times that I will root for Carolina.”
“Whether it was for a money grab or not, the new owner did bring back the Whalers jerseys for a couple games this year, so at least they are finally acknowledging the past,” he added.
Are Narvesen and other Whalers diehards living in that past? Former Whalers player Bob Crawford does not see it that way.
Crawford said that the city still holds a special place for many who follow the NHL, comparing it to Green Bay in the NFL: They were a small-market team who shared an underdog identity with the city, fighting for respect and recognition between New York and Boston.
“There is still a smile when people say Hartford Whalers,” said Crawford, who played for the team from 1983 to 1986. “It’s a special place and they love their Whalers, even now. You still see the colors everywhere.”
The fans also still hold out hope for the NHL’s return. Between beers and glances at the big screen, the talk on Thursday night was about how to make that happen.
Two years ago, hopes were raised as the New York Islanders scrambled to find a new home — the governor even reached out to the NHL — but the team wound up settling on a location near Belmont Park, New York.
Club president Joanne Cortesa said that she believes an NHL return is just a pipe dream.
Others, such as Matthew Greene, are more hopeful. If the state would agree to rebuild or renovate the aging XL Center and the city promotes the Interstate 91 corridor between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts, there is a path, he said.
“The problem is nobody in politics here dares to think big enough,” he said. “Have you ever been to a Saint Patrick’s Day parade in Connecticut? Look at how much of that green is Whalers shirts. The fan base is here.”
Whalers fan Scott St Laurent said there had been chatter that the Hurricanes might play a pre-season game in Hartford, which would allow fans to fill the arena and show the NHL that the potential is there.
“Do you think they’d still do that if they win the Stanley Cup this year?” he asked.
“I doubt it,” Cortesa replied.
“A reason to root for the Bruins,” Greene added as Boston scored again.
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
Neymar on Sunday claimed that he had been the victim of racism as he was one of five players sent off in a mass brawl at the end of Olympique de Marseille’s 1-0 win over Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain. PSG’s Brazilian star appeared to accuse Alvaro Gonzalez of calling him a “monkey” in a series of furious tweets after he was sent off in stoppage-time for slapping the Marseille defender on the back of the head. “Look at the racism. That’s why I hit him,” Neymar, who was returning from COVID-19 quarantine, said as he left the pitch. “The only regret I