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Not everything about NHL return should be black and white to Scott Grey

Malloy and Pucky with Whaler Nation TV host Jerrry Erwin at the St. Patrick's Day Parade in 2014.
Malloy and Pucky with Whaler Nation TV host Jerrry Erwin at the St. Patrick's Day Parade in 2014.
Peter Hindle

Scott Grey of WTIC got out in front of a story/rumor that a local businessman was going to bring back the Whalers. We all have heard rumors over a thousand times of this nature. Larry Gottesdiener comes to mind in 2006, Mayor Perez just a short time after. If you pick a name out of a hat, they have probably been in a Whaler return rumor. Just this very morning another piece of news came out from the Governor regarding the NHL. The old adage came to mind; “where there is smoke there is fire." Intentional smoke or not the NHL story grew on social media from there.

Grey tossed the 92.5FM anonymous call as a publicity stunt, most Whaler fans were cautious of that but excited. Grey said the latest NHL rumor was a radio station promotion and we all fell for it. Grey said Whaler fans will always take the bait on any NHL story. Hours later the Governor was on 92.5 FM confirming that there is interest from several investors on bringing the NHL to Hartford. However this bait transformed and turned out to be real.

Grey’s must feel that Hartford hockey fans are gullible, but the real point is after 17 years they are more hopeful than gullible.

We still haven't seen a parade for a second round playoff loser in any other city in the NHL. It happened here though, and yes you can tell me it was a score and some years ago but regardless everyone remembers it. People remember the Whalers and they remember what it was like to have Hartford be a destination. It should be easy to understand why Whaler fans jump to listen to every rumor. Trust me I know hundreds of people who want the NHL back and I think they could show Scott Grey that they want the NHL more than he does. There is a Nation under green, much like there once was a colonial militia long ago in this state, and it will mobilize if the NHL does return with a single mission to fill seats. The Hartford Whalers Booster Club still being in existence shows some diehard market viability. The one catch is a new NHL team would have to finish in the top 16 of the league but even I feel foolish talking about that.

The Hartford Whalers Booster Club has been getting very good publicity from Mr. Scott Grey. He mentioned reading their face book page and paying attention to some of the rumors ripples on social media, having his attention is great and good news for the club.

This latest Whaler return rumor was released just shortly after 7 AM last Monday on Country 92.5 FM. The rumor was that the Chase family was looking into buying the New York Islanders and moving them to Hartford in 2016. Just about two hours later I read that Mr. Grey spoke to Mr. Chase and confirmed that the rumor was not true. Grey did his job incredibly quickly. He said he had "no choice" but to confirm or deny the rumor. No choice? It should have been a first thought to jump on this, that’s what people expect from WTIC. Why let something like that fester, the anonymity of the caller is what peaked the interest more than the story. I didn't speak to anyone who put heart and hope into the rumor, but the interest in it did reach a tipping point.

Dennis House the senior anchor at WFSB channel 3 tweeted that he had confirmed the rumor was false as well. I don't believe House did that for just news, I believe he did it because he also wanted to know.

I appreciate it when Hartford sports media does its job. House isn't even technically in that field but he is appreciated greatly by Whaler Nation for the attention he gives to the capital city’s chances.

Mr. Grey’s place in Whaler Nation is at a different end of the spectrum. Most Whaler fans I speak to find Grey negative. I hear it from many Whaler fans, it isn't always just because he doesn't believe the Whalers will return.

We all know that Jeff Jacobs from the Hartford Courant won't even consider speculating on a Whalers return until there are shovels in the ground on a new NHL sized arena in Connecticut. Even still he was nice enough to stop at the Whaler Fanniversary on April 13 at the Black Bear Saloon. Several Whaler fans and I chatted with Jacobs about the Whalers and the “long shot”, “pipe dream”, “pie in the sky” chances of Hartford being a major league city again.

Whaler fans have their ears to the ground more than the local sports media are aware of. There are still rumors out there that need to be brought to light. There were people who work downtown at the Fanniversary, people who live downtown, they are noticing things in the city that are changing.

We have known for a while that some investors are interested in Hartford. Perhaps Scott Grey could check into that story? Does he think the Governor investors aren't serious enough? I think most people whether they are booster club members or not don't see the media doing much at all about finding out why the Governor has suddenly changed his tune on the NHL in Hartford?

Grey’s just said yesterday that the Whalers are not returning, and within 24 hours Malloy is on 92.5 FM saying there is a “"reasonable chance" ” that Hartford could get the NHL. That shows you right there how completely out of touch some of the media comes off in Hartford, which way do we go, who do we believe? Most Whaler fans will accept the truth but we don't really know what that is right now.

The Governor in the past 18 months went from telling us to forget NHL hockey and watch the Trinity Squash dynasty to saying he is going for a chance at the NHL during an election year. He said this morning that there are three groups, one national. He said he has had several discussions with those groups and their advisors. He said the state will participate in a replacement for the XL Center should a team show interest in coming to Hartford. That’s enticing to potential owners to have a state that is cooperative. There has to be more to this story, yet the media appears not interested as where to even start to put the pieces together.

I have been told over and over by many Hartford hockey fans that they can't understand how the local media can't see what a needle mover the Whalers still are.

Country 92.5 FM may have been pulling a publicity stunt but I am willing to bet that they didn’t even expect this much interest. The Governor called their station to do an interview on the possibility of the NHL’s return, no way they thought a small prank would bring in commentary from the highest office in the state.

Believe it or not there is a huge sports story in Hartford right now, its time for the media to show some interest in the positive side of that story and forget about the negative, we all know the negative side very well. Scott Grey may not be the "enemy" but he sure isn't endearing himself to the Hartford hockey faithful.