"http://www.stamfordplus.com/stm/information/nws1/publish/News_1/index.shtml - News</head> : "http://www.stamfordplus.com/stm/information/nws1/publish/Sports/index.shtml - Sports</head> : Hockey Published: Sep 20, 2010 - 11:46 PM

Howard Baldwin reaches partnership agreement with New York Rangers and AEG to take control of Hartford Wolf Pack business operations

By XL Center

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Hartford Hockey LLC, a Hartford-based sports marketing and event firm founded by Howard Baldwin, has signed a multi-year agreement to take control of the business operations of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the New York Rangers’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate. The deal was jointly announced today in Hartford by Howard Baldwin, chairman and CEO of Hartford Hockey, Glen Sather, president and general manager of the New York Rangers, and Chuck Steedman, senior vice president and general manager of the AEG Management Connecticut LLC, which manages the XL Center.

Under the terms of the agreement, Baldwin’s Hartford Hockey LLC will be responsible for the day-to-day business operations of the Wolf Pack, including marketing, community relations, sponsorship and ticket sales, while Madison Square Garden and the Rangers will retain ownership of the Wolf Pack and continue to be responsible for all hockey related decisions, including coaching and player movement.

AEG continues to manage the XL Center and will partner with Baldwin’s group on a number of mutual marketing initiatives.

“We are proud to be associated with two great partners like MSG and AEG,” said Baldwin.

“The Hartford Wolf Pack produced the AHL’s top cumulative record over the past 13 years and with Glen Sather, Jim Schoenfeld and Ken Gernander at the helm we look forward to another strong season in 2010-2011 and a great relationship for years to come.”

“Hartford hockey fans have been treated to a winning brand of entertaining hockey in a first class facility over the past 13 seasons, by a Wolf Pack team that produced numerous future NHL players.”

“It is also a great privilege to be partnered with Chuck Steedman, Bob Newman and the entire AEG team,” Baldwin said. “I know they are as committed to the city of Hartford as much as we are and we look forward to working closely with them to make this partnership a success.”

Steedman commented:

“AEG and the XL Center are excited to work closely with Howard and his staff in starting a new era for Hartford's AHL franchise, and we are committed to doing everything possible to facilitate all the exciting things that he has planned. We are proud of the Wolf Pack's success, and appreciative of the Rangers' and MSG's excellent partnership, and as operators of the XL Center, we will continue to take great pride in helping to maintain the franchise's status as one of the premier operations in the AHL.”

Baldwin’s group will retain the Wolf Pack name until the team is re-named the “Connecticut Whale” at a yet-to-be-determined time during the 2010-2011 season.

Baldwin explained the process of naming the team, the “Whale.”

“We wanted a name that reflected a fresh start and new look for this new era of Hartford hockey while still commemorating our rich hockey tradition,” he explained. “The Hartford Whalers have always been affectionately referred to as ‘The Whale’, so it’s a very familiar reference for Hartford hockey fans.

“With the name ‘Whale’ we will begin our own new tradition.“

Baldwin also explained why the team is referred to as the “Connecticut” Whale.

“While we are proud to call Hartford our home”, he said, “we have chosen ‘Connecticut’ for our team name as it symbolizes our commitment to broaden our fan base beyond Hartford County.”

Baldwin noted that many of his marketing plans will be announced in the days ahead

He continued his remarks with a “call to action” for Hartford’s hockey fans.

“I’d like to sincerely thank the Hartford Wolf Pack and their loyal fans for supporting hockey these past 13 years,” he said. “We will always commemorate the significant accomplishments of the Wolf Pack franchise. I also want to express my enormous gratitude to the Whaler fans and their booster club for keeping the Whaler name and the passion for them alive during these 13 years.

“Now is the time for both groups to come together and do what is best for hockey in Hartford. A Wolf Pack fan is a hockey fan – and a Whaler fan is a hockey fan. It is my fervent hope that everyone becomes a fan of THE WHALE.”

Baldwin concluded with a look toward Hartford’s future:

“This is not just about selling tickets to hockey games”, he stated. “This is about bringing downtown Hartford ‘back’ to the vibrant and exciting place that it was in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s when the XL Center (then Civic Center) was the entertainment hub of Hartford.

“I know that TOGETHER WE CAN DO IT– and have a lot of fun in the process.”

The Wolf Pack season opens on October 9 with a game vs. new AHL members the Charlotte Checkers at the XL Center, followed by an October 10 match vs. the visiting Worcester Sharks.

Ticket Information can be found at www.hartfordwolfpack.com or www.whalersssports.com.

About Howard Baldwin:

Baldwin became one of the youngest executives in professional sports when he became a founder and partner of the World Hockey Association’s (WHA) Boston-based Whalers in 1971 at the age of 28. Five years later he was president of the league. The Whalers first season in the WHA was a success both on and off the ice with coach Jack Kelley’s team winning the 1973 AVCO World Cup Championship. In 1974, Baldwin determined that the team needed its own building. He moved the Whalers from Boston to Hartford’s new Civic Center Coliseum, a vehicle for the revitalization of downtown Hartford. In 1979 Baldwin guided the WHA into a historic merger with the National Hockey League. Baldwin served as the managing general partner of the Whalers until the team was sold to local ownership in 1988.

In 1991 he became the owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Under his direction the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, two Patrick Division regular season titles and the President’s Trophy. In addition to the NHL team, Baldwin and his partners created the American Hockey League expansion franchise in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1998 as the minor league affiliate of the NHL Penguins.

In addition to his interest in professional hockey, Baldwin has also enjoyed a successful career in film as a producer with his wife and producing partner, Karen. Baldwin produced MYSTERY ALASKA and the Oscar-nominated RAY among many other films.

About Hartford Hockey LLC:

Founded by Howard Baldwin in 2009, Hartford Hockey LLC is a Hartford-based sports marketing and event firm. In addition to managing the business operations of the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, the company is producing the Whalers outdoor Hockey Fest at Rentschler Field in February 2011. The company also produced the 2010 Whalers Fan Fest and Reunion.

About the Madison Square Garden, LP:

The AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack hockey club is owned by Madison Square Garden LP. Cablevision Systems Corporation owns MSG LP, which also includes the New York Knicks (NBA); the New York Rangers (NHL); and the New York Liberty (WNBA); MSG Entertainment, which includes concerts and events at Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden, The WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, and the Beacon Theatre; MSG Media, which is comprised of MSG and FSN New York; fuse, the music television network, and the Madison Square Garden arena complex, located in the heart of the New York metropolitan area.

About the Hartford Wolf Pack:

The Wolf Pack brought Hartford its only pro sports championship in 2000 when the team captured the AHL's Calder Cup. The team has also compiled the most regular season wins and standings points of any team in the league during its 13-year history. The Pack made the playoffs in 12 of the 13 seasons of its tenure, and won at least 40 games in all but three of its 13 years. In addition to the Calder Cup, Eastern Conference Playoff, New England Division and AHL Regular Season championships that the Pack won during the 1999-2000 season, the Wolf Pack also earned Atlantic Division crowns in 2003-04 and 2008-09.

Several dozen young Wolf Pack players have gone on to enjoy solid NHL careers; recent contributors to the Rangers include Fedor Tyutin, Jed Ortmeyer, Thomas Pöck, Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi, Ryan Hollweg, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Steve Valiquette. Off the ice, the Wolf Pack Community Foundation has been committed to the Hartford community, raising more than $1.2 million for numerous community organizations.

About AEG Facilities:

AEG Facilities provides management, booking and other services for similar sized stadiums and arenas including the XL Center. The company, considered the industry leader in venue operations and management, is known for innovation, operational excellence, established management & control and training & delivery of best-in-class service for more than 90 owned or operated venues worldwide.

Parent company AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Anschutz Company, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center (Los Angeles, CA), Prudential Center (Newark, NJ), Sprint Center (Kansas City, MO), Citizen's Business Bank Arena (Ontario, CA), The Rose Garden (Portland, OR), WaMu Theatre (Seattle, WA), American Airlines Arena (Miami), Verizon Theatre (Grand Prairie, TX), Colosseum at Caesars Palace (Las Vegas, NV), Target Center (Minneapolis, MN), NOKIA Theatre Times Square, Acer Arena (Sydney, AU), Wukesong Arena (Beijing), Ahoy Arena (Rotterdam), Globe Arenas (Stockholm), Qatar National Convention Centre (Doha), O2 Hamburg arena (Hamburg), O2 World arena (Berlin) and The O2, a 28-acre development located in the eastern part of London along the Thames River which includes a 20,000-seat arena and over 650,000 sf of leisure and entertainment use; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), Manchester Monarchs (AHL), Reading Royals (ECHL), Houston Dynamo & Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS), two hockey franchises in Europe, the Hammarby (Sweden) Futbol Club and management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers.

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