When veteran goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere retired last week, it marked the end of an era. Giguere was the last active NHL player to have suited up for the Hartford Whalers (Chris Pronger is technically still on an NHL roster but won’t play another game because of career-ending injuries.) In looking back at the Whalers’ impact on hockey, here’s their all-time team as chosen by longtime broadcaster Chuck Kaiton, who has never missed a game in the 35-year history of the Hartford/Carolina Hurricanes franchise:
Liut was the Whalers’ best player in the franchise’s best regular season in the NHL. In 1986-87 when the Whalers won the Adams Division, Liut finished second in Vezina Trophy voting and third in the running for the Hart Trophy as league MVP.
Howe came over with the Whalers from the WHA and was more than a point-a-game player in his first NHL season. That was also the third year he played with father Gordie and, for a short time, brother Marty.
In 463 games in a Whalers uniform, Samuelsson was a rock. He had 176 points in that time and was a fringe Norris Trophy candidate in 1986-87.
The Whalers’ all-time leader in games played (714), goals (264), assists (557) and points (821) is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. After winning two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Francis returned after the franchise became the Hurricanes and led the 2003 team to the final.
Tippett played the vast majority of his NHL career for the Whalers and was a defensive star. Like many other former teammates, Tippett went on to success as a coach. Gordie Howe would be a sentimental pick in this spot, but he didn’t have the longevity of Tippett.
The last captain of the Whalers played eight seasons in Hartford and trails only Francis in every major statistical category. When the Whalers went the deepest into the playoffs in their history in 1985-86, Dineen had six goals and seven assists in 10 games.
All-Whalers second team: Goaltender Sean Burke, defencemen Chris Pronger and Joel Quenneville, forwards Gordie Howe, Pat Verbeek and Ray Ferraro
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