Tuesday, December 27, 2011
A Great Hartford Christmas Gift
Unless you're watching a Lexus commercial, a good Christmas gift is a gift that has utility, nostalgia, surprise, or any combo of the above. Unless this is your first time to this blog you also know that Hartford was once home to the NHL and that Sad City are Hartford hockey boosters. What you might not know is that our little gem of a city once hosted an NHL All-Star Game. To be fair, we aren't fans of All-Star games in any sport, and tend to think of them to be wastes of time.
But way back in 1986, an era before every game, every highlight, every night, everything was readily available on television, the internet, and your phone; way, way back then, All-Star games did mean a good deal more.
On February 4, 1986, the NHL All-Star Game was held right here in Downtown Hartford. Those days were halcyon days for the NHL as two incredible dynasties were crossing. That night, in Hartford, at the height of the Edmonton Oilers dynasty, five of the six starters from the Campbell Conference were Oilers including a dude named Wayne Gretzky. Other players you may have heard of included; Mark Messier, Grant Fuhr, Andy Moog, (yup, the Oilers had two All-Star goalies,) Jari Kurri, Denis Savard, and Dale Hawerchuk.
Hakan Loob did not make the team.
The Wales Conference featured Mario Lemieux, Ray Bourque (father of current Whale forward Ryan,) former Whaler Mark Howe, Mike Bossy, rivals Peter Stastny and Mats Naslund, and Whaler Sylvain Turgeon. For those not familiar; no amount of talent has ever graced the ice in Hartford before or since. And that is not even up for debate.
Our hometeam won this game on an overtime goal by Islander Bryan Trottier, assisted by his teammate Mike Bossy. With a string of four straight Stanley Cups just broken (seriously, I swear the Islanders won four straight Cups, look it up,) this was the last gasp of dominance from an Islanders Dynasty that had ceded their throne to the Oilers Dynasty.
So for Christmas I got these two coffee mugs. The 1986 NHL All-Star Game in Hartford. A total surprise and classic pieces that and reflect on the glory days of hockey in Hartford. In some ways 1986 and the NHL All-Star Game are so far away, and in some ways right around the corner.
But at least we can catch a lift to New Britain.