Gov. Malloy calls on New York Islanders to move to Hartford

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTN) — Could professional hockey be on its way back to Connecticut? Governor Dannel Malloy and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin are making a power play to do just that.

Malloy and Bronin wrote a letter to executives with the New York Islanders inviting them to move to Hartford, after having heard the Islanders are looking for a new home after the 2017-2018 NHL season. Malloy says Connecticut would love to have the team move to Hartford and use the XL Center, which they would update for the team’s needs.

The team already has a following in Connecticut.

“We’re Islanders fans,” said Kevin Jackson, who was at the Hartford Wolfpack’s game on Friday night. “We come from an Islander family, so not having to make the trek all the way down to Brooklyn to be able to see our favorite team would be fantastic.”

Hartford was once home to the Whalers. Jerry Erwin and Peter Hindle are “The Whaler Guys.” They host a Hartford Public Access TV show.

“The Whalers apparel is still still in the top five of the NHL for a team that doesn’t exist,” said Erwin.

Though the Whalers have been gone for 20 years, the team still has a fan base in Hartford.

“There’s a huge following,” said Hindle. “This is just a great thing to get Hartford back into the game. It’s kind of like maybe they have a 3 legged horse, but they’re in the Kentucky Derby.”

Local business owners say having the Islanders in Hartford would help them get ahead. Bob Colangelo says it would bring more people into the city, and that’s just what they need.

“It would be a tremendous boost for this area,” Colangelo said. “Right now the events that take place there, they are few and far between.”

Though it’s too soon to know if the team will play at the XL Center, fans are excited. They have many questions about what that will mean for the city and the team.

“We’d love the Islanders to come here, and wondering if they might actually change the name back to the Whalers,” said Scott Van Dyke of Bloomfield.

Malloy says Connecticut is eager for another NHL team, also citing the team’s AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.

Bronin and Malloy say they want to speak with Islander executives to “discuss an agreement and show you the potential of Hartford.”

To read the full letter, click here.

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