By Jon Mael Boston.com Correspondent December 1, 2014 12:43 PM
It’s been 17 years since “Brass Bonanza”, the iconic ditty the Hartford Whalers used as a theme song, echoed throughout the Civic Center. In 1997, the Whalers as we knew them ceased to exist, moving to North Carolina, where they were renamed the Hurricanes. Connecticut sports fans, used to playing second fiddle to fans of professional franchises in Boston and New York, were left without a pro team in the four major American sports leagues. Seattle basketball fans, Montreal baseball enthusiasts, and football lovers in Los Angeles know the feeling.
There’s a very small chance that the NHL will come back to Connecticut one day. Despite the odds, a Hartford-based group of Whalers diehards hasn’t given up hope, shooting for the return of an NHL team to a city that’s never been good at defining itself.
Membership in the Hartford Whalers Booster Club, which peaked at over 1,000 in the 1980s, is down to 34, according to club president Joanne Cortesa. That there is still a booster club at all is somewhat miraculous. The Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames, and Ottawa Senators—all viable NHL franchises—lack official booster clubs.
The annual membership fee for the Hartford Whalers Booster Club is $10. The club holds monthly dinner meetings, hosts Whalers alumni appearances, and puts on trips where members travel together to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and New Jersey to attend games as a group.
For lifelong Connecticut resident and booster club VP Joe Wysocki, 50, the pain that was inflicted when the Whalers moved still feels fresh.