When the Rangers' AHL franchise relocated from Binghamton to Hartford in 1997, Ken Gernander was already a minor league veteran. He didn't figure Hartford would a long-term home, so he and his wife were reluctant to buy furniture for their apartment.
Fifteen years later, Gernander is still in Hartford. He played eight years for the Wolf Pack, spent two years as an assistant coach and has been head coach of the team since 2007.
And on Saturday, he'll be honored with induction into the Connecticut Hockey Hall of Fame. The class includes former Whalers (Mike Liut, Pat Verbeek, Blaine Stoughton, founder Bill Barnes), a few local products (Cheshire's Brian Leetch, Fairfield Julie Chu) and Gernander.
Gernander, a native of Minnesota, came to Hartford as a 28-year-old with no children. He and his wife Kerby now have three children and Connecticut has become home
He's also carved a unique place in Connecticut hockey, first as a player and recently as a coach. He was captain of the Wolf Pack for eight season and won a Calder Cup.
Now he's behind the bench and remains popular. The Hall of Fame honor, he said, is really about all of the people he's worked with in Hartford.
"Any time you're recognized in a positive light, it's something you take great pride in," Gernander said. "I feel pretty honored in that regard. In large part, it's a reflection of the all the quality, character people I've been able to work with and associate with all these years. From teammates and players who have played for me to the New York Rangers organization that does all they can to help us be successful here ... To me, it's an honor but also I hope I can represent all the good people I've been fortunate enough to work with."