Sure, the phrase has been applied to hundreds of different events over the years, but to hockey fans today is “the day the music died.”
Thanks to Jeff Marek on Twitter for mentioning that today in 1992 Brian Burke became general manager of the Hartford Whalers. One of the first casualties of the signing was the Whalers’ theme “Brass Bonanza.” According to Marek’s Tweet, Burke said the players “begged him to do it.”
Brian Burke himself has said that “there were players who were embarrassed by [Brass Bonanza.]”
According to Pierre McGuire, Burke “thought the Brass Bonanza was too nice, so he got rid of it.”
The Whalers were always a bit quirky as a team. They wore bright green. They had an upbeat theme song. They had a cartoon whale on their shoulder. They played in Hartford, where few professional teams dare to tread. But that’s why we loved them.
Unfortunately, slowly but surely, everything that made the Whalers unique disappeared. Also in 1992, they changed their dark jerseys from green to navy blue. A few years earlier, in 1985, Pucky the Whale was removed from their shoulders. Now that Brass Bonanza was gone as well, there wasn’t much left of this quirky team.
Even long-time captain Ron Francis was shipped away in 1991.
Then, in 1997 they left Hartford for good to become the Carolina Hurricanes.
Despite Burke’s actions, Brass Bonanza has refused to go away quietly. In fact, after Burke left the team, the Bonanza returned.
Today, several area university’s use the song for sporting events and the strangely-named Connecticut Whale of the AHL use it as a goal song. The Carolina Hurricanes use the song from time-to-time.
The Hartford Whalers weren’t cool in the 1990s. That was an age of grunge and gangster rap. A green whale with an upbeat song didn’t fit in. Today, in the age of retro everything and hipster madness, what was considered gaudy and lame back then is considered cool today. Their jerseys are big sellers and everyone still loves Brass Bonanza.
With nostalgia for the Winnipeg Jets and Quebec Nordiques at an all-time high, how long before the “Bring Back The Whalers” campaign picks up steam?