There really is no group according to Malloy's Director of Communications, Andrew Doba.
The Governor is not forming a group to look into the NHL for one reason.
That reason is because he already created a group to look into these types of opportunities to improve Hartford economics. Back in June of 2012 , Governor Malloy created the Connecticut Convention and Sports Bureau. The states first committee put together to lure major sporting events.
The General Manager of AEG Connecticut, Chuck Steedman, was appointed to chair the sports marketing arm of the Bureau. AEG is also one of the bidders to regain control of the XL Center and Rentschler Field.
The Governor has created new plans. He has talked about creating jobs, building a giant bus way from New Britain to Hartford, and making Hartford a "rising star". He has talked about making Hartford a destination for tourists.
I don't want to be too obvious with the Governor but, "hello, anybody home? This is a gimme!" The State should definitely look into this and entertain any offers.
Returning the NHL to Hartford would benefit all three of the Governors tasks. Why would anyone look at bringing the NHL back to Hartford as an economic hinderance?
The team left in 1997 and at that time it was estimated that the downtown area would lose 75 million dollars a year from the loss of the NHL. When you hear that you can imagine the boom an NHL franchise would be for Hartford.
I am no economist but I do know that bringing in over a half a million people to Hartford, for 41 games is definitely a way to increase the city's economy. All those sports fans will be interested in parking, shopping and dining. The teams fan base can even be brought in by the Busway.
The Governor may still not think that Hartford is ready for a return to the big time yet but he has changed his tune from a year ago, that much is definitely clear.
In January of last year he let us down easy on Howard Baldwin's economic revival plan for the XL Center and downtown area. It was 105 million, maybe it was too much for an AHL City?
Last January on WNPR's 'Where We Live Malloy said that an NHL team was unlikely for Hartford.
"I have talked to Commissioner Bettman myself about this subject. I don't believe that there's any team moving to Hartford in the next couple of years, let's put it that way."
"And if lighting strikes, and if the NHL decides to change some of its rules about moving teams, it's always a possibility. But again, I'll go back to the cornfield in Iowa. I'm not going to build it simply in the hopes that they will come."
Then last June on WFSB's program 'Face the State with Dennis House' Malloy said that it was unlikely that the NHL would restore a team to Hartford.
If we fast forward to earlier this week Malloy sounds like he has taken a right turn on NHL hockey in Hartford.
"I have spoken to individuals who have expressed a desire to bring a team to Hartford, Malloy said to the Courant.''
''If you are sincere and you want to meet with us, we will meet with you. But to date, I have had no meetings with anyone about their specific interest.''
Any hockey fan who wants to see the NHL will tell you that is a change from how he sounded last year. It's not optimism but there is some interest, and if the price is right for the State, I believe they will go for it.
The best part for hockey fans our Governor has spoken to someone who has shown interest in Hartford. The city is like a diamond in the rough, maybe that is catchier than a "rising star", well, maybe not.
I don't think it is at all just a coincidence that the NHL lockout had ended just hours before this story broke.
Those investors or owners of an NHL team must realize that Hartford is the largest media market without a professional sports team. The TV dollars alone must be attractive?
Hartford's central location to other NHL markets is not looked on as too crowded anymore because the savings in travel are worth it especially with the league looking for ways to cut costs and increase revenue.
I also don’t think it’s so much of a coincidence that the XL Center and Rentschler Field are up for renewal on their contracts. Whoever wins the bid could benefit from the NHL. AEG manages several NHL rinks and so does Global Spectrum, they are two of the three bidders.
Remember, back in August an article in the East Hartford Gazette mentioned building a new arena next to Rentschler Field. Now remember just this week that the investors who spoke with Malloy discussed areas outside of Hartford, maybe like East Hartford? Or is it more south? Is it closer to New Haven? Thats another city with rich hockey roots as well.
One thing I will caution is I wouldn’t start digging out old Whaler jerseys, hats and coats just yet but it is very encouraging for the Hartford hockey faithful to at least finally have a Governor who is open to the NHL and to keep on improving Hartford to the city it should be.