The Carolina Hurricanes will be throwing it back in 2018-19. The team announced Thursday that they would be returning to their roots with the classic Hartford Whalers uniforms set to be worn in two games against the Boston Bruins this season. The first game will come on Dec. 23 and the second will be a road game on March 5 — the Bruins agreed to wear their road white uniforms for that game to accommodate Carolina.
It's back. ?
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) September 27, 2018
The return in games against Boston is also a nice touch by the Hurricanes and Bruins’ organizations as the Whalers were originally established in 1971 as the New England Whalers in the WHA. Rather than playing in Hartford, the team would play in Boston at the Garden and at Boston Arena for the first few years of their existence.
Naturally, scheduling became an issue as the Garden was owned by the Boston Bruins — a team rival, and as such, the owners of the Whalers elected to move the team to Hartford, becoming the team everybody knew them as today.
Fans have been calling for this throwback for years as the Whalers uniform, specifically the logo and color-scheme, have been favorites among hockey fans for years. While the team went through many different versions of these uniforms, the Hurricanes will be going with design that the team used from 1985 until 1991. An added Hurricanes’ touch to the jersey will see the team’s “warning flag” pattern embedded on the inside of the collar as the team’s other jerseys all have.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Whalers brand is how well it has sold since the team moved from Hartford to Raleigh in 1997. The Whalers logo, colors and brand have lived on well beyond the years of the team itself and because of this, it became a cult classic of sorts not just in Hartford but around North America as well. No matter where you are in Canada or the United States, there is almost a guarantee that someone will be wearing, selling or owns a piece of Whaler merchandise.
The brand has lived on so strongly in Connecticut alone that their NWHL team, the Connecticut Whale, have adopted the color scheme and a play on the original Whalers name.
Based purely on nostalgia alone, it will be interesting to see not only what jersey sale numbers look like when everything is said and done, but also how high the ratings will be given that the collective hockey world will likely want to tune in just to see the jerseys in action.
The Hurricanes entered the 2018 offseason with a goal of rebuilding the culture in the locker room. While that entails a lot of moving forward and leaving things (and players) behind in the past, for better or for worse, the team undoubtedly made the right call by electing to bring these jerseys with them into this new era.