The Hartford Whalers and New York Rangers, much to the dislike of some fans, have a lot more in common than people realize. Some Whaler fans prefer to turn their backs on hockey and the city because they can’t stomach the Ranger AHL team in Hartford and some Ranger fans can’t stand Whaler fans pining for the NHL’s return to Hartford, even though its clearly what is best for the Capital city. Ofcourse both are running their negative campaigns on emotion rather than logic.
Whether you hate them or love them a team still plays in Hartford, hockey has not left. It is not the NHL but it is hockey. It is the Ranger’s team but it will always be a team that plays in Hartford’s hockey market.
The current franchise in Hartford began not as a New York Ranger team. In fact the current franchise in Hartford is the oldest continually run AHL franchise.
They began play in 1926 in Rhode Island as the Providence Reds. They moved on from there in 1977 to Binghamton, New York. The team became the Binghamton Dusters from 1977-80 having affiliations with the Los Angeles Kings (1979-1980), Boston Bruins (1979-1980), Quebec Nordiques (1978-1979) [WHA], and the Pittsburgh Penguins (1977-1979).
How do Whalers fans feel about the team once being affiliated with Quebec and/or Boston? Those teams were truly the Whalers rivals. How do Ranger fans feel about the team being affiliated with the Penguins?
In 1980 the franchise in Binghamton began a new affiliation with the Hartford Whalers. They were branded the Binghamton Whalers with a logo that was simply the Whaler logo turned on its side, making the negative space in the logo look like a B for Binghamton instead of an H for Hartford. The Binghamton Whalers played a decade under the Hartford Whalers brand and they went on to win two division championships in Binghamton. They made a Calder Cup finals appearance in the 81-82 season. The Whalers sold the franchise to the New York Rangers in the second half of the 80’s and then they moved their AHL team to Springfield, Massachusetts where they won a Calder Cup in 1991.
The Binghamton Rangers moved to Hartford immediately after the Hartford Whalers moved to Greensboro, North Carolina in 1997.
Since that time the Hartford Wolf Pack has been here in Hartford for 17 seasons. That’s as long as the Whalers were in the NHL. In that time they have won three division titles and a Calder Cup championship which they won 14 years ago in the 1999-2000 season.
The current franchise is the oldest continually run franchise in the entire AHL and only the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadians have been in existence longer.
It’s ironic that the Hartford Whalers held an affiliate in New York and the New York Rangers now hold that same affiliate in Hartford. It is the same franchise and the franchises long time records are held by both Whalers and Rangers.
All time single season records
Goals: 53 Paul Fenton, Binghamton Whalers (1985-86)
Assists: 84 Ross Yates, Binghamton Whalers (1982-1983)
Points: 130 Paul Gardner, Binghamton Whalers (1984-85)
Penalty Minutes: 415 Dale Purinton Hartford Wolf Pack (1999-2000)
GAA: 1.59 Jason LaBarbera, Hartford Wolf Pack (2003-04)
SV%: .936 Jason LaBarbera, Hartford Wolf Pack (2003-04)
Shutouts: 13 Jason LaBarbera, Hartford Wolf Pack (2003-04)
Goaltending Wins: 34 Jason LaBarbera, Hartford Wolf Pack (2003-04)
All time career
Goals: 184 Brad Smyth, Hartford Wolf Pack
Assists: 204 Derek Armstrong, Hartford Wolf Pack
Points: 365 Brad Smyth, Hartford Wolf Pack
Penalty Minutes: 1077 Dale Puriton Hartford Wolf Pack
Shutouts: 21 Jason LaBarbera, Hartford Wolf Pack
Career goaltending wins: 94 Peter Sidorkiewicz, Binghamton Whalers
Games: 599 Ken Gernander, Hartford Wolf Pack
Whaler fans shouldn’t despise a team that former Whalers still hold records in and Ranger fans should appreciate the history of their New York Ranger affiliate. It is after all still the same team both fan factions have rooted for at one or more times.