by David F.P.
A week ago I sat in the XL Center as the Adirondack Phantoms, (whose GM is former Whaler Exec Paul Holmgren), came in to the take on the Connecticut Whale, [Image Gallery] who haven’t lost much since their name change. There were fewer fans than the unveiling of the new team name on November 27th, but the fans that were there were enthusiastic. A ton of excited kids and plenty of invested adults. It’s good to see the energy continuing, and frankly “Brass Bonanza” works.
I don’t report on these games since I am clearly biased towards the Whale, but I am thrilled to see the hype. It was an exciting game, plenty of scoring and scoring chances, an early fight, plenty of rough action, just a lot to entertain the crowds, as well as highlight some of the up and coming players in the Rangers system.
I’ve been going back and forth about the Rangers affiliation. Obviously a lot of hockey fans in the state are Whalers fans, and a lot of fans in the state are either Bruins or Rangers fans, and plus plenty are likely Islanders fans as well, though they have the Sound Tigers. It’s a diverse group. Though I think for the same reason people turn out for the Rock Cats games (even though those guys are headed up to Minnesota to fight off the Sox and Yankees) it’s because there is a disconnect. Fundamentally, it doesn’t affect the NHL who wins in the AHL. The Whale could win all of their games and the Rangers could win none. In fact, one would expect that as an NHL team improves, their AHL team weakens and vice versa. And if the Whale defeats the Providence Bruins, it doesn’t affect anything at the upper level so what difference does it make.
If Howard Baldwin succeeds then Hartford will have an NHL team for us to wrap our loyalties around, but for now the AHL is just it’s own entity. I mean after all, teams do change affiliations, so you can view it more as the Connecticut Whale exist, for now the Rangers supply them with guys, if the Rangers were to stop, another team would, (to oversimplify). And on an even more crazy level, teams often benefit from their opponents, a hero needs their villains. So if you insist on being a Bruins fan, the Whale makes a strong nemesis to hone the P-Bruins into guys who can supply the home team. Or the same is true for Islanders fans. Plus when one really things about it, most of the games any of the three teams play are not against each other, so really, all three fandoms want the Charlotte Checkers to be pounded into the ice. There’s a lot of room for fans to work.
Plus it’s fun.