Don Quixote Out of Hartford Hockey. Again.
So much for all those plans for a new XL Center and Don Quixote triumphly returning the NHL to Hartford. The Hartford Courant reports the Rangers have taken back management of the Connecticut Whale from Baldwin’s Whalers Sports & Entertainment:
Sources have told The Courant the team will play in Hartford next season, but the Rangers have told WSE officials they will not be involved in the day-to-day operation and marketing of the franchise. The structure of the front office for the upcoming season is not known, but an announcement could come Tuesday or Wedneday.
The company’s financial problems have long been a concern for the Rangers.
WSE has also been trying to negotiate a new lease with the AEG, which manages the XL Center. The team’s lease expires in 2013 and WSE has been seeking more favorable terms. Company officials have said rent for the past season was $25,000 per game.
After a bump in attendance during the 2010-11 season, the team averaged 4,573 (23rd in the 30-team AHL) last season.
After all the talk about increased attendance, Howard could only manage 23rd in the league. The team made the playoffs, but they also lost all of January.
Who knows where the AHL in Hartford goes from here. The XL Center needs serious work or a complete teardown, but who thinks anything is going to be worked out in the next few years? Remember Howard’s plan for a fancy remodeled XL Center? Neither does anyone else and that was only seven months ago. Hartford does have something going for it however, it’s still probably the closest place to New York City after the Devils moved their AHL team to Albany last year.
Need it be said? Everyone who pulled out Whalers apparel hoping the NHL will come back can safely stow the stuff away until the next Don Quixote comes along in five or ten years.