When I opened Facebook and saw the video of that Hartford Whalers jersey with "Brass Bonanza" blaring, it was pretty clear that the Carolina Hurricanes had lived up to the speculation and planned to honor its past: one that still causes heartache for many over 600 miles away.
My initial reaction to the video was excitement. I'm a sucker for nostalgia like many. When the Penguins brought back their "Pittsburgh gold" jersey as an alternate in 2014, I loved it despite being just a baby when they last wore them in 1992. Two years later, they became the main home jersey with a white road jersey to match. If there is one professional sports league in North America that has embraced looks of the past, its the National Hockey League. Third jerseys have helped many teams shed the tacky looks of the 90s and return to a cleaner, classic look.
The Carolina Hurricanes throwback jersey is a nice gesture and acknowledges the franchises origins, but for those in Hartford and other parts of New England that followed the team and watched it move south in 1997, it can feel like the Canes new ownership is digging up a coffin and propping up the corpse for two games in order to sell merchandise with the logo of a team who many will argue died over two decades ago.
The comments on Facebook and the replies on Twitter vary from those who love it, those who feel the Hurricanes had no right resurrect the look and others telling that second group to get over it.
I decided to temper my excitement with sympathy for those who had their hearts broken in 1997. When the Penguins future in Pittsburgh was unknown in the early and mid 2000s, thinking they would move to a place like Kansas City or Las Vegas left me in a depressive state with every news report that hinted they might leave.
In the end, the team got a new arena and a 30 year lease, but what if it went the other way?
What if the Penguins moved to Kansas City, were re-branded and 20 years after leaving, their owner decides they will wear Pittsburgh Penguins "throwbacks" in games against the Flyers?
That's a timeline I'd rather not venture down, but perhaps I would react negatively. I would be the type of Penguins fan who hangs on to jerseys, t-shirts, hats and other items with the hope the NHL can reincarnate the team like the NFL re-established the Cleveland Browns after the original Browns moved to Baltimore. I would probably be irritated that some owner is trying to generate revenue by selling merchandise with that iconic skating Penguin that went extinct when they moved to the middle of the country.
So...yeah. I get the pain Whalers fans might feel when they see the Hurricanes in those amazing, all-green throwbacks.
Even with that pain, I would imagine there were some tears while "Brass Bonanza" played as the camera panned over every inch of the jersey.
And just because, here's what might be the best theme song for a team in any professional sport!
And here's the final game the Whalers played in Hartford.
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