For Bruins fans, there were plenty of reasons to take a trip down to Hartford

“That was always a problem,” Whalers PA announcer Greg Gilmartin said. “I mean, season tickets sold well, but there was always room for Bruins fans when they played in Hartford. There were fights a lot. Put it this way: everything was cheered or booed, one way or another. There was an atmosphere of hatred of really in those games, to the point where there was a lot of energy.”

“When the Bruins and Rangers were in town, and you were in the convention, if somebody scored, the cheers were you had to wait a few seconds before the Brass Bonanza,” said longtime Hartford sportscaster Rich Coppola. “If you heard it, you knew the Whalers had scored. If you didn’t, you knew it was New York or Boston. That’s what the cheering was.”

Fifteen years later, Red Sox fans would make the same trip to Baltimore; cheap seats, convenient location, and a team that would beat a division rival. For Bruins fans, the Hartford Civic Center was their version of Camden Yards.

“I loved going there through the ’90s,” said veteran New England hockey writer Mick Coageo. “I loved driving into town and seeing this black and gold parade marching down Asylum Street an hour before kickoff. It was like Camden Yards for Boston hockey fans. Just pure transportation. And let’s be honest – it was easy. get a ticket.

You could say that the rivalry reached its peak during the 1990-91 season, a year that included a fierce brawl at the Boston Garden behind a home-and-home series between the two teams. There were 100 penalty minutes called in that minute, most of which came after a third-period goal by Hartford’s Ed Kastelic to set up Craig Janney, one that sparked a memorable disaster.

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“I was going back to my spot as a winger, looking for space, and I was on the ice with Janney and Neely. It wasn’t my usual matchup — thinking about it now, I’m not sure why I was there,” Kastelic recalled. “But I was just coming back, and I was settling into a position, and Craig was coming into the area, maybe five to 10 meters, and he was looking the other way. I hit him. I didn’t want to follow him, but he was coming my way, and he didn’t see me. I didn’t hit him very much, but he looked like he was hit and went down. I didn’t get out of the way.”

“Bleeding Green,” written by Boston Globe sports network producer Christopher Price, details the history of the dead Hartford Whalers hockey game.University of Nebraska Press

The song produced a lot of fireworks. Dean Evason started a fight with Cam Neely, and Chris Nilan and Kastelic took care of it for a bit.

“Then, there were several boys trying to get me … I think Nilan was one of them. Nothing happened at first, but they were escorting me off the ice,” he added.

“The benches at the old Boston Park were on the sidelines, and you had to go through the Bruins bench to get to the locker room,” Kastelic said. “I saw Byers there, ready to meet me. I was waiting for the door to open, I quickly shocked him, and that’s when he wanted to hit me and that’s when the benches exploded. You were [Pat] Verbeek, who is good with a stick, working there too. He was a determined man who would score goals and had a temper. The glass between the desks began to vibrate. ‘My God. What’s going on.’

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“So yeah, every time we played with them, there was a lot of energy. You could always feel it.”

“It was a great rivalry,” recalled former Bruin Bobby Carpenter. “The place was always packed — it was a lot of fun. Hartford always stood up to the occasion against the Bruins, so we never went out there and played soft or we’d get beat up. But you always knew you were going out there to play a game. It was always tough. It was a great place to play.”

One night, after Neely gave Geoff Sanderson a cheap shot, Adam Burt went after him. “The thing about Cam was that he was a lot tougher than me, but I knew I had to go in with him after that, especially because Sandy was our leading scorer at the time,” recalled Burt.

“So, we’re going good, and I get the idea to reach up and grab him with my left hand. I give him a black eye and knock him down. Well, our bench wouldn’t shut up. They push him. ‘Burt hit your butt, Cam.’ You could see Cam getting madder as it went in. I was like, ‘Shut up, man. I don’t want to fight him all night.’ Sure enough, when we came out of the penalty box, he followed me again. He didn’t stop, and in the end he got paid.

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Things were as good as the perfume on the ice too. A retired Hartford police officer – who chose to remain anonymous – recalled a night in the late 1980s when the Bruins’ bus was boxed in after an overtime victory over the Whalers at the Civic Center, and Boston coach Terry O’Reilly was not happy about that. it is.

“When the Bruins got to their bus to go home, a car was blocking the bus from going in. Terry was so angry, he was yelling every time.'[Expletive] Hartford. This town is bad.’ Well, the Bruins bus waited 5 minutes, when Terry lost it. He grabbed a hockey stick and started hitting the parked car. He destroyed it. He then ordered the other players to pick up the damaged car to allow the bus to exit.

“The Hartford police had to make an arrest. We had the commander come to the scene to make a phone call. Terry was foaming at the mouth. I was just thinking that if we got this guy, a bus full of Bruins would go to war. Well, the Sheriff called O’Reilly. for Criminal Corruption and brought to court.A ticket was issued and four police car units escorted the bus out of town.

“By the way, the chief was punished for his actions, for not being detained [physical] be arrested.”

Christopher Price can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at cpriceglobe.


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