Developer Says Arena Is Priority
January 6, 2006 -- Brian Girasoli -- Norwich Bulletin

Show me, don't tell me about NHL future in Hartford

Latest news: Major League sports are proposed for Hartford.

Please, let's all recall the lyrics of that Ray Charles song:

        Here we go again
        The phone will ring again
        I'll be her fool again
        One more time

With the recent headlines of a developer wanting to tear down the Civic Center, build a new one and bring an NHL team back to the area, I feel as if it's much ado about nothing. Again.

It seems like only yesterday former Gov. John G. Rowland was sitting with Patriots owner Bob Kraft, signing the agreement to come to Connecticut with a new stadium.

Didn't seem to go too well.

So what can they do to convince me this is a feasible idea?

Coincidentally, tonight is Whalers Appreciation Night at the Civic Center, where Ron Francis, Kevin Dineen and -- I had to triple-check this -- Ulf Samuelsson are being honored during the Wolf Pack's game with Portland at 7 p.m.

Francis and Dineen, I can understand that. They were the face of the Whalers, and in many ways still are. They were artists on the ice, scoring and leading this team into the playoffs (albeit not far).

Samuelsson? His main contribution was being an artist with the fists. He was also part of that debacle of a trade in 1991 for the Whalers, when Francis and Grant Jennings were dealt to the Penguins for Zarley Zalapski and John Cullen. Francis and Samuelsson helped Pittsburgh win a few Stanley Cups; Zalapski became an addition to the list of great hockey names.

Today Samuelsson is an assistant coach with the Wolf Pack, so that probably explains that. But where's Mike Liut, arguably the best goalie in team history? Or going back further to Al Smith, who led the Whalers to the Avco Cup, the World Hockey Association's championship?

Curious decisions. But then, it really wouldn't be the Whalers, would it? Remember, this is the team that had the parade to celebrate them reaching the Adams Division Final in 1986 before losing to Montreal. Or the one with Brass Bonanza, that catchy theme song which still gets airtime to this day.

Look, I'm all for it if the NHL comes to Hartford. I'll be one of the first in line to buy tickets.

But don't tell me about what you want to do. Show me.

Considering Hartford's sporting past, it would be a first.