With Governor Dannell Malloy as the guest, the subject of hockey came up on Channel 3’s “Face the State” with Dennis House on Sunday Morning, specifically the possibility of a return of the National Hockey League to Hartford.  For nearly three and a half minutes the governor showed himself to be seriously out of touch with the current hockey reality in his own state, particularly in the capital city.

The governor indicated that the best hope for returning “professional” hockey to Connecticut rested on supporting the University of Connecticut hockey team when it begins playing Hockey East games at the XL Center next season.  UCONN has developed a formidable hockey program, as evidenced by last night’s stunning upset of ninth ranked Providence, and Hockey East is one of the premier collegiate leagues in the nation, but the governor missed on two counts with his one statement.

Despite the governor’s assertion about what it will take to return “professional” hockey to Connecticut, two professional teams already call our state home, the Hartford Wolf Pack and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.  In discussing hockey in his state for three and a half minutes the governor never mentioned the American Hockey League.  By linking hopes of bringing the National Hockey League back to Connecticut to the success of college hockey, Malloy demonstrated a further disconnect.  By that standard of reasoning North Dakota would have had an NHL team years ago.  In National Hockey League markets in which college hockey also flourishes one has virtually nothing to do with the other.  The presence of the Wild in Minneapolis was not fostered by the presence of the University of Minnesota hockey team.  Boston was a hockey market, crazy for it’s Bruins, long before Boston College and Boston University established themselves in national circles.

By the governor’s reasoning, equating support for a college sport in a market to it’s attractiveness to that sports major league, Hartford would have been an NBA city years ago, instead of having a, deserved or not, failed Continental Basketball Association history.  The CBA’s best year’s in Hartford came only after admitting the appeal for pro basketball in this market was better suited to the smaller venue at the armory than the larger venue at the Civic Center.  If support for college teams were proof positive that a major league team would automatically be successful in the same market Los Angeles, with, not one, but two of the best supported and most successful college football programs in the nation, would have an NFL team.

Dennis House shouldn’t be blamed for giving the governor a free pass, he’s a newsman, and a good one, but if it had been a sports talk show, hosted by a sports media person, the governor would have been politely corrected and it would have been pointed out that, in any state, the governor is considered the point man in any effort to attract any business, including a sports franchise.  If the governor isn’t in touch with the reality of his own state’s professional sports environment the chances of attracting a major league franchise are greatly diminished.

With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.


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