A member of the Hartford Hockey 400 Club made a short trip back to his NHL roots on Wednesday. During mid-day the Connecticut Lottery held a Whaler Lottery Scratch Ticket promotion at City Steam on Main Street in Hartford. What looked to be a crowd of 150 or more, eyeballing guess, came out to see Geoff Sanderson.
Sanderson played 439 games for the Whalers after being drafted in 1990, 36th overall. He had four thirty goal seasons and two of those were forty goal seasons. In all he scored 189 goals for the Whalers and he was one of their best players throughout the 90's.
There was a line of people from the back of the restaurant out into the hallway and that line didn't shrink until the end of the event. The Connecticut Lottery gave out Whaler tee-shirts and a free scratch game to all who came and were of legal age. I asked Ann Noble, the President of the Connecticut Lottery, if they were happy with the turn out and she said she was. She wore her Whaler gear to the event as most of the fans did. Just about more than half of the crowd on hand was wearing their Whaler green and navy blues. The representatives on hand were very nice and City Steam did a great job too, free food and samples of their home brew. Surely last but not least, Sanderson was great. He signed anything you brought, took pictures and even let you chat with him.
When I got up to the front of the line I asked him when he played in Hartford what was the first thing that came to his mind when reflecting on that time? He didn't even take much time to think. He told me simply; "What if?". He went on to say what if they(Whalers) had beaten Boston in the 90-91 playoffs and what if we won in seven games against Montreal (in 91-92)? Sanderson went on to longer playoff runs in Buffalo in the late 90's but there was definitely belief that those Whaler teams could have moved on behind what he was saying.
The turnout at City Steam being this positive reminded me of the Whaler Fan Fest in 2010. Every fan had their Whaler stories, many of them brought their children who were interested in meeting Sanderson too. Most kids that were there wearing Whaler gear have never seen the Whalers play but they like the Whalers just as their parents did. It has to make the hopeful in Hartford wonder if the NHL is watching? If they are they'd be blind to not see that the NHL embers in Hartford are still quite warm.