May 30-June 6, 2007
By ANDY HART, The Hartford News Staff Writer
Hartford’s avoided the ignominy of losing two professional sports team in less than a decade when the Hartford Wolf Pack announced Tuesday that they will remain in the city and continue playing at the Civic Center.
The New York Rangers, parent team of the Wolf Pack, have signed a multi-year deal with Northland AEG, LLC, the new operators of the Hartford Civic Center Coliseum, to remain in Hartford. Larry Gottesdiener, chairman and chief executive officer of Northland Investment Corporation, said the deal with the Rangers will not stop Hartford’s ongoing effort to get a new National Hockey League (NHL) team and build a new hockey arena. The Wolf Pack are part of the American Hockey League (AHL), a minor league.
If the city does acquire a new NHL team, the deal between the Rangers and Northland would be terminated, Gottesdiener said.
Hartford once had its own NHL team, of course, the Whalers. The team,originally known as the New England Whalers and a member of the World Hockey Association (WHA), began playing at the Civic Center in 1975. In 1979, the team joined the NHL and became known as the Hartford Whalers. In 1997, they left Hartford for North Carolina.
While the Whalers did well in the WHA, they were far less successful in the NHL with only three winning seasons in 18 years. The Wolf Pack have been far more successful, making the playoff ten years in a row and winning the AHL Championship in 2000.
Gottesdiener said, “Today's announcement means that all of the business operations and management for the Wolf Pack will be run by Northland AEG with all of the financial risk and reward now residing with this Hartford-based partnership.”