Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Pack bid Whale adieu, finish off Portland 5-2

Those dishes won't wash themselves, you know T. Pöck (Rutsch photo)

On a night where the Wolf Pack honored three former Hartford Whalers players-- raising the jersey numbers of Ulf Samuelsson, Kevin Dineen, and Ron Francis to the rafters in a ceremony that gave the Whalers fans one more hockey memory-- the Wolf Pack also gave to the fans something that the Whalers didn't give to their fans nearly often enough: a win.

Colby Genoway had 2 goals and an assist while Thomas Pöck assisted on all but one of the Wolf Pack goals, as Hartford beat the Kevin Dineen-coached Portland Pirates on Friday night, 5-2. Pöck's 4 assists came the day after I made the comment, "Craig Weller had 4 assists on the night, which is more than Thomas Pöck has ever had in one game for the Wolf Pack", so I guess that shows how much I know.

Fedor Fedorov's line (Fedorov, Craig Weller and Lee Falardeau) got credit for shutting down the top line of the first-place Pirates, a line that features the AHL Co-Rookies of the Month for December, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Perry came into last night's game with 32 points (15g, 17a) in only 17 games, but was held off the scoresheet for the first time all season. Portland's top scorer, Dustin Penner, had an assist in the game, and now has 38 points (17g, 21a) in 25 games this year.

The game saw three fights, with Hartford's Dave Liffiton pounding Nathan Saunders to start things off 10 minutes into the contest, and then Joe Rullier squaring off against big Trevor Gillies a few minutes later. Rullier is a very good fighter, but Gillies is a true heavyweight, and while Rullier didn't get beaten up, he didn't fare too well either. Gillies and Martin Grenier, teammates with the Wolf Pack last season, fought each other as the game was winding down in the third period, probably to renew acquaintances more than anything else.

Maxim Kondratiev was once again impressive on defense, showing off the smooth skating and stickhandling skills which prove him to be a cut above most AHL defensemen, even if the Rangers (and justifiably so) believe that he still needs a bit more work to make it on the NHL level. Kondratiev isn't the most physical of defensemen, but his skating and positioning are near-perfect, and he can get the puck out of the zone far more effectively than any other Hartford player on the ice.

The big news of the night, of course, was the 35-minute "Whalers Appreciation Night" ceremony that preceeded the game, honoring current Wolf Pack assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson, current Portland Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen, and the newly-retired future Hall-of-Famer, Ron Francis. When I first walked through the doors of the arena I thought it was actually snowing inside the building, from all of the moths that were flying around due to the hundreds of Whalers jerseys that were being worn out in public for the first time in nearly a decade. Many old Whalers fans hold a grudge against MSG and the Wolf Pack for occupying the Civic Center, for whatever reasons. Still, I saw none of the planned protests that were being discussed by the breathless (as in, needing life support) Whalers Booster Club in the weeks before the game, such as turning their backs during the game, or rooting for the opposing team, or watching the ceremony but then leaving before the game started (a "mass-exitous", as one of the brilliant Whalers faithful spelled it on their crummy message board).

Chris Rutsch photo She Played Me Like A Booger

Whomever was in charge of putting together the replica Whalers jerseys that were worn by the honorees got the colors wrong, as the green "W" and blue whale's tail were switched. I guess it didn't matter, as many of the more boisterous fans wearing Whalers garb seemed way too young to have ever been to a Whalers game, except maybe as a grade schooler. Some of the older fans were wearing "New England Whalers" garb in an attempt to be "classic" or old school, though it was obvious that they had bought the stuff three or four years after the team had already moved away, so it symbolized about as much as buying a sweater a week ago from L.L. Bean.

The game drew 12,206 fans, which is about triple what the Wolf Pack have been drawing for an average Friday night game so far this year, meaning that about 8000 extra fans came out to give the Whalers franchise one last goodbye before the coffin gets nailed shut. The "Let's Go Whalers" chants during the ceremony and throughout the game were as loud as anything, and after each Wolf Pack goal the Civic Center played the Whalers goal song-- which is of those game show themes, like the "Price Is Right" or something like that. A couple of times during the game, the cameras caught some Whalers fans holding up a sign reading "Hartford Still Belives" (sic), and you know what, that just about sums it up for me too.


Anonymous G12 said...

At least they could have aired out the jerseys they were wearing the smell of moth balls were makeing
myself and my friend gag.
Hey speaking of class how about super Whaler and let em in for free Marty showing off their food stained jerseys in their photo album presentaion to the boys, i'm sure let em in who was wearing Kevins old number on his jersey was telling Kevin remember when you scored that goal in 1988 i got so excited i spilled nacho cheese and haven't washed it since.
yes the old building was just dripping with class now that that bullshit is over can we please see the parent club logo somewhere in the civic center ?

1/8/06, 6:10 AM

Blogger Brushback said...

There are now 5 or 6 or whatever many Whalers banners that have been added to the building by MSG and the Rangers since the Whalers skipped town, yet there isn't a Rangers logo anywhere. This is despite the fact that MSG operates the Civic Center, and the Wolf Pack are the Rangers' farm team.

People can say that the Rangers never played in the building, while the Whalers did, but that's still a little too much Whalers appeasement for me.

I wanna thank for the extra ticket to Friday's game, by the way.

1/8/06, 2:18 PM


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