Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The (Sort of) Return of the Whalers!

Last night I had the nostalgic pleasure of watching my all-time favorite NHL franchise take the ice again!  Well...sorta.  From the late '80s, when I began playing ice hockey myself and collecting hockey cards, through their departure after the 1996-97 season, I was a diehard fan of the Hartford Whalers.

The franchise provided me and my family with so many cherished memories that I could never even begin to get into them all here.  Many I have mentioned on this blog in the past, some I will get to in the future.  Suffice it to say there is no franchise in the history of professional sports that I favor more than the Whale.  When the team up and moved to Carolina and became the Hurricanes, I was one of the many fans who was just crushed.

Well, earlier this year the NHL announced that the Hurricanes would be playing two games this season as the Whalers, both of them against my now hometown team the Boston Bruins.  Yes, I know this isn't the same thing, and I know the Whalers are truly gone, but I can't say that I wasn't giddy with anticipation over these games.  Within minutes of learning the news I hopped online and bought some amazing seats for the March 5th match-up at TD Garden in downtown Boston.

The game last night was an absolute blast.  As you can see, I really did spring for some solid seats.  My wife and I were second row from the ice, right on the corner of the zone that the "Whalers" would defend in the first and third periods.  The game was everything I hoped it could be and more, bringing back so many great memories of those glorious green uniforms in NHL action.

It helped that nostalgia wasn't the only value here, as this was one exciting hockey game to witness, opponent aside.  If you've never enjoyed NHL action in person I cannot recommend it enough.  I've seen the four major North American sports played live more times than I can count, and hockey more than any other is just so much more incredibly fast in person than it appears on television broadcasts.  My wife and I were truly on the edge of our seats for the entire 2 1/2 hour game.

The "Whalers" are a really exciting team as well, packed with exciting young players and making a serious push for playoff contention in 2019 (they would be in the mix if the season ended today).  Almost from the moment the puck dropped, the players were scrapping it out in front of a raucous crowd of nearly 20,000 screaming fans.  There were brutal (albeit legal) hits, fights, and plenty of scoring.

I tried not to take a million pictures because I'm much more about enjoying the moment and soaking it all in.  The seats were so great though that I had to snap at least a few to commemorate the occasion.  Of all the photos I took, this one probably does the best job of conveying exactly how close we were to the action.

I could not have asked for a better result either.  The teams battled to a 3-3 tie at the end of regulation, and we got to see Boston win it on an overtime goal by my current favorite player, David Krejci.  It was pretty awesome to see the Bruins continue their amazing hot streak, as they have now recorded at least one point in 17 consecutive games.

It was a fitting ending.  Watching the team lose was a big part of being a Whalers fan, as silly as that sounds, and this was right in line with how Hartford fared in many match-ups against the B's back in the '80s and '90s, so it just felt right.  As I heard one Whalers fan exclaim while we were filing out "Hey, at least they pushed it to overtime.  We got our first point in the standings since '97!".

All in all, a fantastic night, and certainly up there in the top 10 live sports experiences of my lifetime.  A big thanks to the Hurricanes and the league for this much-appreciated trip down memory lane!  I really, really, really hope some of the 2019-20 cards from Upper Deck feature photographs from this contest.  If so I'll certainly be collecting each and every one of them.

Finally, because this is a sports card blog after all, here's a Whalers card to finish off the post.  In the 2013-14 Upper Deck release, the company included "MVP" inserts as well as a couple of varieties of parallels of said inserts.  This is the rarest, a Super Script, serial-numbered to just /25.  Very pleased to add this one to my collection as I continue my march towards the #1 Whalers collection on The Trading Card Database.

Well, that's all for tonight, I'm off to listen to some Brass Bonanza and sort some cards!  Thanks as always for stopping by!


beaucoup_fish said...

Hi Shane,

Rob here! I watched this game as well and really enjoyed seeing the return of the Whalers uniforms. I really wish they hadn't moved. Green is an under-used colour in sports and the Whalers jerseys are classics.

I emailed you a week or two ago and haven't heard from you so I'm not sure the email landed in your inbox. Look forward to hearing from you!

defgav said...

Sounds like a great time!

Chris said...

Oh man..I knew you'd have a post up but I should have known you'd be at the game! Those seats must have been incredible, and I'm with you 100% about enjoying the moment and not taking too many pics. But you were so close to the action you could have been snapping photos for 2019-20 Upper Deck! (and there sure better be some "Whalers" cards in next years' sets!)

Love that quote you overheard: "Hey, at least they pushed it to overtime. We got our first point in the standings since '97!". True dat, lol.

I'm really anxious to catalog my Whalers cards and see where I rank on TCDB. I'm not expecting to be anywhere close to your total, but maybe I can crack the top 10.

Brett Alan said...

Sweet pics! I definitely agree, hockey is great live.

The terrific uniforms site Uni Watch has coverage of the game today. (There's a link to coverage of the earlier game with those throwbacks as well.)

Billy Kingsley said...

I was watching with my mom the other night and I said to her that the blogger who sent me the big square boxes is probably there, didn't realize I could have pointed you out on TV if I knew what you look like! Great seats!

I specifically asked UD about the first game and they said that they had photographers there, they actually replied to me on Twitter.

gregory said...

Great post, great seats! (As soon as you said "Brass Bonanza" I heard the Sega hockey version in my mind.)

Marc said...

You sure got to see yourself an exciting game. And those seats..... Sheesh. Amazing to say the least. Knowing you were at the game and how it ended with Krejci scoring, you must have left with the biggest grin of them all. Thanks for sharing your story and maybe even more so those pics.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...