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December 7, 2013
The Great Whaler Caper
by Jim Iovino, Ace Reporter
I was recently in New York City visiting some friends when we decided to stop by the NHL Store to heckle E.J. Hradek during his radio show.
Unfortunately, Hradek wasn't there. However, while perusing the fine selection of overpriced NHL merchandise I came across a gem.
Like a squirrel's fixation on a shiny object, my eyes focused in on a sweet forest green, long-sleeve T-shirt with a Hartford Whalers logo on it.
Sold, I thought to myself.
But upon further inspection and a check of the price tag, I did a double take. And then a triple take.
The NHL Store Powered By Reebok was charging a whopping $72 for a simple long-sleeve T-shirt with a Whale logo on it.
I asked my friend Brett to check it out, just in case someone slipped a mickey in my drink the night before at Bar 82.
Nope, I wasn't seeing things. That was what they were charging.
How can this be? A quick glance at all the other long-sleeve tees on the shelf showed that the rest were selling for about $56 a pop. Still pricey, but not $72. That doesn't seem quite right, now, does it?
No, certainly not.
The reason? I was able to dig up a bit of info on the sale terms of the Whalers' deal with Peter Karmanos, who moved the club to Raleigh. Seems that when the team moved, the Connecticut Development Authority retained the rights to the Whalers name, logo and trademark use.
At the time, it was a means to keep Karmanos from using the name for his Carolina team. But since then it has apparently stopped the use of the logo for other projects, such as video games (throwback jerseys), and for vintage NHL gear sold by the NHL.
Go ahead, try to find a piece of Whale merchandise on shop.NHL.com. We'll wait...
Didn't find any? Didn't think so.
But just when you thought the only way to get a new piece of Whaler merchandise was to draw the logo yourself on a t-shirt with some magic markers, here comes a beauty of a long-sleeve T-shirt (and an accompanying overpriced short-sleeve shirt) in the NHL's anchor store in NYC.
Doesn't quite make sense. But it does give hope for the future of Whaler merchandise in a store near you.
A painfully expensive future, but a future nonetheless...