Big Weekend for Whalers Fans - NBC Connecticut

Big Weekend for Whalers Fans



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    Since the team's departure from Hartford in 1997, Whalers fans have been waiting for the day when the team would return to Connecticut.

    While that hasn't happened yet, there is a big push to show the National Hockey League just how important "The Whale" was, and still is to Connecticut.

    Howard Baldwin, who owned the Whalers in the 1970s and brought the team into the NHL, is leading the charge.

    He's organized a Whalers Reunion and Fan Fest for Friday and Saturday.

    The festivities kick off Friday morning with the Whalers Golf Classic tournament at Tunxis Plantation in Farmington. Whalers greats Ron Francis and Kevin Dineen will play in the tournament and attend the Whalers Arthritis Foundation Hat Trick Dinner that evening.

    The real fun for fans begins Saturday at 11 a.m. with the Fan Fest at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. Francis and Dineen will be joined there by Whalers Legend Gordie Howe, along with two dozen more former Whalers players.

    Fans will get a chance to get autographs from the players and even take pictures with them. Footage from old games will be playing on the Jumbotron at the stadium, and there will be a chance to play interactive games.

    Baldwin wants the NHL to see that there is still a big market for hockey in Connecticut. The Fan Fest is a prelude to Baldwin's Whalers Hockey Fest in February.

    The 10-day winter festival will feature a number of minor league, college and youth hockey games at an outdoor rink built at Rentschler Stadium. Baldwin hopes the festival will have the same appeal as the NHL's Winter Classic outdoor games. There will also be an on-ice matchup between Whalers and Bruins alumni.

    Whether this weekend's Fan Fest is the catalyst to bringing "The Whale" back to Hartford remains to be seen. But at least it should be a fun time for those who still hear Brass Bonanza in their dreams.