Monday, July 26, 2010
July by the Numbers travels east for jersey #26.
When the Hartford Whalers of the NHL departed for North Carolina to become the Carolina Hurricanes, the professional hockey void in Hartford was filled by the relocation of the Binghamton Rangers of the AHL for he 1997-98 season.
The Rangers were renamed the Hartford Wolf Pack and remained the Rangers top farm club. During their 13 seasons in Hartford, the Wolf Pack have never had a losing record and qualified for the playoffs 12 consecutive seasons. Five times the club has topped 100 points in the standings, including a Wolf Pack best 110 in 2007-08.
In 1999-00, Hartford finished with the best record in the AHL with 107 points and were led in scoring by Derek Armstrong, whose 82 points were good for third overall in league scoring.
Hartford opened the Calder Cup playoffs with a first round 3-2 defeat of Springfield prior to knocking out Worcester 4-1. They then eliminated Providence 3-2 in overtime of Game 7 to advance to the Calder Cup Finals. In the finals, they met the Rochester Americans, who they defeated 4 games to 2 to capture their only Calder Cup championship with Armstrong being named as the playoff MVP.
The Wolf Pack have retired one number in their history, the #12 of Ken Gernander.
Gernander first played for the franchise in Binghamton in 1994-95 and came to Hartford with the franchise when it relocated. In all, he played for the franchise for 11 seasons and was team captain for ten of them. He was named the club's head coach in 2007.
Today's featured jersey is a 2003-04 Hartford Wolf Pack Bryce Lampman jersey. While many minor league teams have their own unique jersey sets, completely separate from their parent club, others adopt the look of their NHL big brothers, sometimes with very poor results aesthetically.
The Wolf Pack however, have a history of some of the most striking and attractive jerseys in all of minor league hockey, generally taking a basic jersey from their parent club the New York Rangers, and then apply a mix and match program of their own logo or wordmarks done in the classic Rangers dropshadowed font.
This particular example finds it's basis in the Rangers dark blue "Lady Liberty" alternate jersey. They then added the name "Hartford" in the Rangers traditional, diagonal style and finish it off with the name and number customization in the style of the Rangers jerseys to create an instantly familiar-looking, yet brand new style to great affect.
If anything, the Wolf Pack could be accused of overdoing it, as it seems like they have had more jerseys than nearly any team in recent memory. Documenting them all would be a research project that would certainly be a challenging undertaking, as nearly every basic jersey style seems to have been used with a rotation of "Hartford", "Wolf Pack" and the team's wolf head logo at some point!
Today's video segment is a look back at some of the early years of the Hartford Wolf Pack in anticipation of the 2002 playoffs.
This next video is their opening video from the 2009-10 season.