1979/80: Skating into the NHL, the Whalers decide to identify themselves with Hartford, hoping to carve a niche as Connecticut’s only professional team. However, the Whalers would not start the season in Hartford, as work was not yet completed on the Civic Center. In their first NHL game on October 11th, the Whalers would be knocked off by the Minnesota Northstars 4-1. The Whalers would finally return to Hartford on February 6th with a resounding 7-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings before a sold-out crowd. Already playing with legendary Gordie Howe, the Whalers would acquire Bobby Hull for the stretch run. With their duo of legends, the Whalers would on to finish in 4th place in the Norris Division with a 27-34-19 record good enough for a playoff spot. In the playoffs, the Whalers would be swept in three straight games by the Montreal Canadiens as Hull and Howe both play their final NHL games.
1980/81: In their second NHL season, the Whalers would struggle all season finishing in fourth place with a 24-41-18 record missing the playoffs by 11 points.
1981/82: The Whalers are moved to the Adams Division as part of a total NHL realignment. However, the struggles for the Whalers would continue as they finish in last place with a 21-41-18 record.
1982/83: The Whalers continue to struggle to get accustomed to life in the NHL, as they finish with a 19-54-7 record that was tied for the worst in the league.
1983/84: The Whalers show slight improvement but finish in last place again with a 28-42-10 record, missing the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.
1984/85: The Whalers’ struggles continue as they miss the playoffs again by finishing in last place with a 30-41-9 record.
1985/86: It is a good year for the Hartford Whalers as they host the NHL All-Star Game, an end to their playoff drought by finishing in fourth place with a 40-36-4 record. In the playoffs, the Whalers would stun the first place Quebec Nordiques with a three-game sweep in the first round. In the Adams Division Finals, the Whalers would battle the Montreal Canadiens to a seventh game overtime before Claude Lemieux ended the Whalers hopes 5:55 into the extra session.
1986/87: With a dramatic comeback win in their final game, the Hartford Whalers win their first Division Title since joining the NHL with a record of 43-30-7. However, in the playoffs, the Whalers would have the tables turned on them as they are beaten by the fourth place Quebec Nordiques in six games.
1987/88: Despite a losing record of 35-38-7, the Whalers make the playoffs for the third straight year by finishing in fourth place. However, in the playoffs, the Whalers would be knocked off by the Montreal Canadiens in six games.
1988/89: The Whalers are sold to Donald Conrad and Richard Gordon before the start of the season. The Whalers would make their fourth straight playoff appearance by finishing in fourth place with a 37-35-5 record. However, in the playoffs, it would be a quick exit as the Whalers are swept in four straight games by the Montreal Canadiens.
1989/90: The Whalers continue to own fourth place in the Adams Division, making the playoffs again with a 38-33-9 record. In the playoffs, the Whalers would give the Boston Bruins all they could handle, forcing a seventh game with a dramatic 3-2 overtime win in Hartford for Game 6. However, in the end, the Bruins would emerge with a victory in Game 7 at the Boston Garden by a score of 3-1.
1990/91: Despite a poor 31-38-11 record, the Whalers make the playoffs for the sixth year in a row by placing fourth in the Adams Division. However, in the playoffs, the Whalers would be knocked off in the first round again, losing to the Boston Bruins in six games.
1991/92: Despite a 26-41-13 record that was the second-worst in the NHL, the Whalers make the Playoffs by finishing in fourth place. However, the Whalers would not be an easy first-round opponent for the Montreal Canadiens, who needed double overtime in Game 7 to eliminate the Whalers.
1992/93: The Whalers, introduce a new look as they change their primary color to blue while adding silver to their logo. However, their struggles catch up with them as they miss the playoffs for the first time in seven years by finishing in fifth place with a 26-52-6 record.
1993/94: The Whalers’ struggles continue as they finish in fifth place with a 27-48-9 record. Following the season the team would be sold to Peter Karmanos Jr., Thomas Thewes and Jim Rutherford for $47.5 million.
1994/95: The start of the season is delayed for nearly four months by a lockout that wipes out half of the season. Once the season started, the Whalers continued to struggle finishing in fourth place with a 19-24-5 record, missing the playoffs by four points.
1995/96: Rumors of a move begin to circulate as owner Peter Karmanos Jr. tries to get the city of Hartford to build the Whalers a new arena. While the Whalers request for a new arena falls on deaf ears, the team struggles again, finishing in fourth place with a 34-39-9 record that keeps them out of the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.
1996/97: In a tight battle for the playoffs all season, the Whalers shock the fans in Hartford on March 26th when owner Peter Karmanos Jr. pays $20.5 million to escape the final four years of their lease at the Hartford Civic Center, freeing the team to move following the season. On April 13th, the Whalers would bid farewell to Hartford with a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lighting as Captain Kevin Dineen scores the final goal. However, the Whalers 32-39-11 record would fall just two points short of a playoff spot. Less then a month later, the Whalers would announce Carolina as their new home.
1997-Present: The Whalers are gone but not forgotten, and even though it is unlikely the NHL will ever return to Hartford, the Whalers are still a large part of the Hartford hockey scene. In January of 2006, Ulf Samuelsson, Ron Francis, and Kevin Dineen were honored by the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack, who play at the Civic Center now known as the XL Center by having their uniform numbers raised to the rafters. In 2010 the Wolfpack who had former Whalers Owner Harold Baldwin changed their name to the Connecticut Whale. They would even adopt the classic Green and Blue colors.
©MMXV Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the National Hockey League. This site is not affiliated with the Hartford Whalers or the NHL .This site is maintained for research purposes only.
All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on December 29, 2002. Last updated on August 2, 2015 at 7:30 pm ET.