One former NHL market is hoping to capitalize on the increasingly murky future of the Arizona Coyotes.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont is trying to meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman this week about the potential of relocating the troubled franchise to Hartford, which was home to the Whalers from 1972-1997 before the team moved to Raleigh and became the Carolina Hurricanes.
“This is a great hockey state and a great hockey town,” Lamont said. “It’s evidenced by the passion we have for the Whalers going back years, still one of the best-selling jerseys. I think we can guarantee them a very strong market right here, and a government that’s ready to come and be their partner.”
Tempe voters last week rejected a proposal for a privately financed $2.1 billion arena project that would have kept the Coyotes in Arizona long-term.
The biggest arena in Hartford is the XL Center, which has a capacity of 14,750 for hockey. The NHL would likely want a deal in place for a new arena before greenlighting a Hartford franchise.
Lamont’s desired meeting with Bettman, for which he’s already contacted the NHL, would mark a major step in Connecticut’s hope for a return to the top tier of pro hockey.