A packed bus of Whaler fans and several other fans, who drove on their own, made the trip down to the Nassua Coliseum in Long Island.
A group representing Whaler Nation made quite the impression on the crowd and the New York Islanders last night. The game was great as NHL action always is. Whaler fans got their wish too as they cheered on Jean Sebastian Giguere as he earned a win making 30 saves in net against the Islanders. Most Whaler fans didn't have a rooting interest in the game but wanted to see the last active player to ever play for the Whalers do well, and he did.
Earlier in the day Whaler fans jumped on the Brass Bonanza Bus to make the trip. The bus made two stops in the Nutmeg state, one in Cromwell and one in West Haven.
There were people on the bus from just about every corner of the state. I was surprised to see so much support from fans that live in New London County. Whaler fans in New London are a good hour ride from the XL Center. Most of them told stories of how they remember the days when their parents would make the trip to Hartford just for the NHL action alone.
The message of the bus trip was to simply enjoy a real NHL hockey game and have fun but the business message was that Whaler fans want a team to return to Hartford. There is still a strong fan base and serious fan support for the return of the NHL.
The Whaler fans were not alone in the hopes of getting their message across. Nordique Nation was there as well. A large group of Quebec Nordique fans were on hand hoping that the NHL sees their support and that the NHL will return to Quebec, Canada.
The Nassua Coliseum concourse occasionally would have groups of Whaler fans talking to groups of Nordique fans. The two groups had hopes for each others wishes of getting the NHL back. The Nordiques fans loved seeing the Whaler green and the Whaler fans loved seeing the royal blue of the Nordiques jerseys. A long time ago these two teams were division rivals and even playoff opponents a couple of times.
The question most asked last night on the Coliseum concourse was; why are there so many Hartford Whalers jerseys here today?
The answer was simple because Hartford wants the Whalers back. Hartford hockey fans had plenty of talking points to share as opposed to other years. Hartford is the largest media market without a professional sports team. Hartford now has three investors looking to bring an NHL team to Hartford. Hartford's Governor has said a new arena is a question now of when and where. The mood of Whalers fans has changed from hope to feeling that they are on our their way bringing the team back.
The only disappointment came when the Islanders informed everyone that they could take a group picture on the ice but no one was allowed to wear any NHL gear even NHL gear from a team that has not played in 17 years. That was a bit ridiculous but it is their ice and their rules. Most Whaler fans had nothing on but Whaler gear so they could not participate in the group photo.
The trip was very successful and has paved the way for future trips to occur. There will be more Brass Bonanza Bus trips in the future with larger crowds. It's a great time with great fans and great Connecticut people. Brass Bonanza blared a little louder today and many believe they will hear it in Hartford again soon, thats really where it belongs.