“It was always an issue,” said Greg Gilmartin, the Whalers’ PA announcer. “I mean, season tickets sold well, but there was always room for Bruins fans when they played in Hartford. There were many fights. Put it this way: everything is either cheered or made fun of, one way or another. There was a sense of real rivalry in these games, to a point where there was some real intensity.
“When the Bruins and Rangers were in town, and you were at the meeting, if someone scored, the cheers were such that you had to wait a few seconds for the brass bonanza,” said longtime Hartford sportscaster Rich Coppola. “If you heard that, you knew the Whalers had scored. If you didn’t, you knew it was New York or Boston. That’s what happiness was like.”
Fifteen years later, Red Sox fans would make a similar trek to Baltimore. Cheap seats, convenient locations, and a team that beats a division rival. For Bruins fans, the Hartford Civic Center became their version of Camden Yards.
“I loved going there in the 1990s,” said veteran New England hockey writer McCollagiou. “I loved driving downtown and seeing this parade of black and gold come down Asylum Street an hour before the game started. It was like Camden Yards for Boston hockey fans. Just a pure possession. And let’s face it – getting a ticket was easy.
You could argue that the rivalry peaked during the 1990-91 season, a year that included a bitter feud between the two teams at the Boston Garden at the back end of a home-and-home series. It had 100 penalty minutes, most of which came in the third period after Hartford’s Ed Castilek hit Craig Janney, which set off a memorable rally.
“I was coming back into my zone as a winger, checking back into the slot, and I was on the ice with Jenny and Nelly. 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 got into the slot, and Craig got into the area. was, maybe five to 10 feet away, and he was looking the other way. I hit him. I didn’t mean to hit him, but he was coming toward me, and he didn’t see me. I hit him. He didn’t hit hard, but he looked like he was hit and he went down. I just didn’t get out of the way.
Mara produced plenty of fireworks. Dan Evanson started hooking up with Kim Neely, and Chris Neylan and Castiel went at it for a while.
“Then, there were two guys trying to get to me… I think Nilan was one of them. Nothing happened in the first incident, but they were taking me off the ice,” he added.
“The benches in the old Boston Garden were on the side, and you basically had to walk through the Bruins’ bench to get into the locker room,” Kastelic said. “I saw Byers there, ready to meet me. I expected the door to open, I gave him a sharp shove, and then when he tried to push me, the benches began to fall. you had [Pat] Verbeek, who is good with a stick, also works there. He was a stand-up guy who scored goals and was cheerful. Glass began to shatter between the benches. ‘oh my god. what is up.’
“So yeah, every time we played them, there was a lot of intensity. You can feel it all the time.”
“It was a great rivalry,” recalled former Bruin Bobby Carpenter. “The place was always packed – it was very exciting. Hartford always rose to the occasion against the Bruins, so we never went in there and played soft or we would have been beaten pretty well. But you always knew you were going there to play. It was always a tough one. It was a great place to play.
One night, after Nelly gave Geoff Sanderson a cheap shot, Adam Burt followed him. “The thing about Cam was that he was a lot tougher than me, but I knew I had to be in after that, especially because Sandy was our best scorer at the time,” Brett said. remembered
“So, we’re going pretty good at it, and I think of turning my hand and hitting him with my left. I gave him a black look and pushed him down. Well, our bench won’t close.” They’re hugging him. ‘Brit kicked your butt, Kim.’ You could see this cam get more and more crazy as it went in. I was like, ‘Shut up, guys. I don’t want to fight him all night.’ Of course, when we came out of the penalty box, he came after me again. He wasn’t going to stop, and finally he got some feedback.
Things were as spicy as snow. A retired Hartford policeman — who chose to remain anonymous — recalled a night in the late 1980s where the Bruins’ bus was boxed in after an overtime win for the Whalers at the Civic Center, and Boston coach Terry O’Reilly was happy. was not that
“When the Bruins got on their bus home, a car stopped the bus. Terry was so upset, he was shouting every slogan in the book. ‘[Expletive] Hartford. This city is useless. Well, the Bruins only waited 5 minutes, when Trey lost it. He picked up a hockey stick and started hitting the parked car. He destroyed it. He then allowed some of the players to take the wrecked car and leave for the bus.
“Hartford police needed to make an arrest. We called on the scene to call a commander. Trey’s mouth was watering. I was just thinking that if we captured this man, the bus full of bronze would fight back. Meanwhile, the district attorney issued O’Reilly a summons for criminal mischief when he appeared in court. A ticket was issued and four police motor units escorted the bus out of town.
“Thus, Sardar was disciplined for his actions by not being detained [physical] arrest
Christopher Price can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at cpriceglobe.