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12-19-2012, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Lead Role in a Cage View Post
Looking through the rosters of the Whalers in the mid 80's I see there was quite some potential.

The 84/85 roster saw a 21 year old Ron Francis in his fourth season, a 19 year old Sylvain Turgeon in his second season scoring 31 goals in 64 games coming off a rookie season potting 40, along with rookies Kevin Dineen (20), Ray Ferraro (20) Ulf Samuelsson (20), and Sylvain Cote (18). A 28 year old Mike Liut was added to the team during the 84/85 season.

These were young talented players, who all had long careers with different amount of success, none of which were older than 21 at the time. Young centers, wingers, defenders and a Mike Liut who still had some years left to provide solid goaltending.

I think there could have been plenty of room to improve as a club and franchise with this "core" moving forward so my question is, why didn't they take off?
The in depth answer is to go into all the small details.

The easy answer is two key trades and an injury:

Dec 27th, 1980
Mark Howe, one of the league' elite offensive defensemen (who back then played a much more offensive, rushing style akin to Paul Coffey, but more solid defensively) end up on the ice sliding into the goal net. The goal nets at the time were shaped differently, as many ere remember, and had what amounted to a spike in the middle. Howe received a severe laceration on his thigh and was never the same wicked skater he had been.

August 19th, 1982
Mark Howe and Hartford's 3rd rounder in 1983 (Derrick Smith) traded to Philadelphia for Greg Adams, Ken Linseman, and Philadelphia's 1st (David Jensen) and 3rd (Leif Karlsson) rounders in 1983.

March 4th, 1991
Ron Francis, Grant Jennings, and Ulf Samuelsson for John Cullen, Zarley Zalapski, and Jeff Parker.

Without the Howe injury (and subsequent short-sale of a Norris contender due to his "damaged" state) Hartford would have been a consistent division threat in the 1980s, and might even still have the Whalers today.

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