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Behind The Logo: How Did The Hartford Whalers Get Their Name & Logo?

The Hartford Whalers logo is one of the most recognizable logos in sports history. It has become an iconic symbol of the city of Hartford, Connecticut, and a beloved memory of the team that played there from 1979 to 1997. The logo’s design is simple, yet powerful, featuring a stylized letter “W” with a blue whale’s tail fin at the top, and the negative space in between creates an “H” shape for Hartford. The name was an instant hit with fans, and it helped to establish the team’s identity in the city of Hartford.

What’s In A Name?

The Hartford Whalers got their name from their original owner, Howard Baldwin, who wanted to pay homage to the team’s roots in the World Hockey Association (WHA) and the region’s maritime past. Interesting enough, Hartford, Connecticut, does not have a direct history with whaling, as it is located far inland. However, the city has a connection to the whaling industry through its location along the Connecticut River, which was an important transportation route for goods, including whale oil, in the 18th and 19th centuries. Hartford merchants were involved in the whaling industry as investors and owners of whaling ships, and whale oil was a valuable commodity in the city’s economy. Additionally, the city’s Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art has a significant collection of American marine art, including paintings of whaling ships and whaling scenes, reflecting the city’s appreciation for the maritime history of New England. The team began as the New England Whalers in the WHA, which was founded in 1972 and was a rival league to the NHL. When the WHA merged with the NHL in 1979, the New England Whalers became the Hartford Whalers, reflecting their new home in Hartford, Connecticut.  Baldwin chose the team’s name and logo to emphasize their maritime roots, with the whale tail in the logo representing the team’s connection to the ocean and its history in the WHA.

The Designer

The logo was designed by Peter Good, a graphic designer from Boston who had previously created logos for the Boston Celtics and the New England Patriots. Good was tasked with creating a logo that would represent the team’s new home in Hartford while also reflecting the team’s history as the New England Whalers in the World Hockey Association. The resulting logo was a perfect combination of these elements, with the blue whale’s tail representing the team’s maritime roots and the stylized “W” signifying the team’s new home in Hartford. The logo was first introduced in 1979, when the team moved from Boston to Hartford and became the Hartford Whalers. It was an immediate hit among fans, and it quickly became one of the most recognizable logos in the NHL. The logo was prominently displayed on the team’s uniforms, merchandise, and marketing materials, and it helped to establish the team’s identity in the city of Hartford. In the 1980s, the team added a green stripe to their uniforms, which was reflected in a new version of the logo that featured a green “W” instead of a blue one. The team also experimented with different color schemes, including a black and silver version of the logo that was used during the 1992-1993 season. Despite these changes, the logo remained a beloved symbol of the team and the city of Hartford. It was widely recognized and admired by hockey fans around the world, and it helped to establish the Hartford Whalers as a team with a unique and distinctive identity. 

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The Whalers Leave Hartford

During their time in Hartford, the Whalers made the playoffs several times and even reached the Stanley Cup playoffs in 1986-87. While the team’s success on the ice was seemingly few and far between, the small-market, underdog quality the team represented helped to cement the logo’s place in hockey history and made it an even more cherished symbol of the team and the city of Hartford. Which is why when the team announced in 1997 that they would be relocating to North Carolina, fans were devastated. The team’s departure marked the end of an era for hockey in Hartford, and it left a void that has yet to be filled. Many fans were particularly upset to see the logo go, as it had become such an integral part of the team’s identity and the city’s cultural heritage. Despite the team’s departure, the Hartford Whalers logo has remained a popular symbol of the team’s legacy and history. It can be seen on merchandise and memorabilia, and it is often worn by fans who still hold a special place in their hearts for the team that once called Hartford home. In recent years, there have been efforts by some fans to bring the Hartford Whalers back to the NHL. These efforts have included petitions, social media campaigns, and even a proposal to build a new arena in Hartford. While it remains to be seen whether these efforts will be successful, they are a testament to the enduring popularity of the Hartford Whalers logo and the team’s legacy in the city of Hartford. In addition to its popularity among hockey fans, the Hartford Whalers logo has also been recognized for its artistic merit. The logo has been featured in numerous design books and exhibits, and it is often cited as an example of effective logo design. The logo’s impact extends beyond the world of hockey and design, however. It has become a cultural touchstone for the city of Hartford and a symbol of its identity and heritage. The logo’s enduring popularity is a testament to the impact that the Hartford Whalers had on the city of Hartford and the NHL as a whole.


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