HHOF Profile: Peter Karmanos Jr.

karmanos052410It is interesting how at one time a man can be the most loved and the most hated person in hockey, depending on where you are from.

That is the legend of Peter Karmanos Jr. and in 1997 Karmanos reached that point when he moved the Hartford Whalers to the North Carolina.

For the diehard Connecticut hockey fans Karmanos receiving an honour like the hall of fame is a terrible thing.

After all he came into the NHL in 1994 with many hoping that he was the man who could keep a struggling franchise afloat through some tough times.

Instead he bought the Whalers and looked into a new location for the team and after two seasons he had found it.

NHL hockey left Connecticut and has never returned and so to those diehard fans of the Hartford Whalers, Karmanos is the enemy.

On the flip side the hockey fans in Raleigh, North Carolina could not be happier as they received hockey for the first time.

They were given a franchise and one that has been fairly successful in only a limited time as a professional team.

Since 1997 the Hurricanes have been to the Stanley Cup twice and taken home the title once all thanks to the ownership of Karmanos.

Despite his lack luster reputation in Hartford, Karmanos deserves this honour if not for his commitment to hockey than his guts to take hockey to a place that it never should have worked.

Right out of college Karmanos began a software company named Compuware and with the success of that company began a commitment to the game he grew up with in Russia before moving to the USA.

He began by growing the sport in his adopted home of Detroit when he created the Detroit Compuware Hockey organization.

That organization provided minor hockey to a city that is now known as Hockeytown, USA and gave the opportunity for players like Mike Modano and Eric Lindros to find the game that they loved.

He was then welcomed into the Ontario Hockey League when he was awarded an expansion franchise which would become the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors.11148858-large

That team evolved into the Junior Red Wings and eventually the Detroit/Plymouth Whalers who were a franchise until last season when they were sold and moved to Flynt, Michigan to become the Firebirds.

He had always been committed to growing the sport in one of the biggest hockey markets in the USA but when he bought the Hartford Whalers he had a different place in mind.

He announced that the team was going to move to Raleigh, North Carolina and everyone in hockey had to pay attention.

For most it seemed like it was doomed to fail and just another example of the NHL moving into places where they can’t be successful.

Then the Hurricanes took the ice and Carolinians came out to see their new team who rewarded the support with plenty of success.

The Hurricanes showed that hockey can work in non-traditional markets as one of the few success stories during the 1990s expansion.

The ‘Canes are not the same success story they were though as they were ranked the #28 most valuable franchise in the NHL by Forbes and are struggling financially.

A lot of that has to do with the lack of success on the ice for the Hurricanes as the market is there but seemingly only for a good team.

Despite the recent struggles of the Hurricanes the commitment of Karmanos to hockey is unquestionable.

From his years in Detroit supporting minor hockey to his time in helping the NHL in their plan to spread to new markets in the NHL.

He has always been connected to the sport and for this commitment he earns a spot among the best to play the game and those non-players who have had a massive impact on the game.

p-karmanos.fw

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