Hartford Whalers broadcaster Kaiton discusses Mike Liut, who will be inducted into the CT Hockey Hall of fame on March 10.
By Bruce Berlet
Talk about a delayed reaction.
In fact, it took 10 days before Pat Verbeek even knew he had been traded from the New Jersey Devils, who had drafted him in the third round in 1982, to the Hartford Whalers for Sylvain Turgeon.
The deal took place on June 17, 1989, but Verbeek was on a fishing trip with his father, Gerry, and six relatives and friends in a remote section of Ontario, Canada, and incommunicado until he returned home.
“We flew in the last 100 miles and didn’t have any phones,” Verbeek recalled of a trip to an outpost 500 miles north of Sault Ste. Marie. “It was well before the age of cell phones, but now we take satellite phones with us. I heard some things (about a trade) when I got back, and when I called home, my mother said it had happened and I went, ‘Wow.’ ”
Though Verbeek didn’t know about the trade for more than a week, it didn’t stop New York Post writer Hugh Delano from making up innocuous quotes from the former Devils wing.
“I said, ‘Hugh, how can you quote me? Nobody knew where I was. Nobody got a hold of me and here you are putting quotes from me in a story,’ ” Verbeek said with a chuckle. “I was disappointed but not surprised.”
Yes, Verbeek was indeed traded, starting a noteworthy and interesting 51/2 seasons with the Whalers that included a contract holdout, an incident in a Buffalo bar that helped shape his life and playing with future Hall of Famer Ron Francis, the most decorated player in franchise history. It all helped lead to Verbeek and six others becoming the newest inductees into the Connecticut Hockey Hall of Fame on March 10 at 3:30 p.m. at the XL Center before the Connecticut Whale host the Norfolk Admirals at 7.
“It’s a pretty cool thing and very humbling,” said Verbeek, 47, who is already in the Lambton County Hall of Fame in Sarnia, Ontario. “You never imagine stuff like this happening. I didn’t set out for that to happen. When you’re a kid, you want to achieve your goal of being in the NHL, and I achieved my goal. Then you just try to play as well as you can and see what happens. Obviously a lot of good things happened, and now I’m getting this extreme honor.
A hall of fame designation is by definition an individual honor.
And as consistent as Connecticut Whale head coach, and franchise icon, Ken Gernander has always been in the execution of his several different roles with the team, he has been just as steady in deflecting the credit for all of the achievements he has helped the organization accomplish. Whenever the spotlight tries to shine on Gernander, he redirects it to those who have gone into battle with him, or helped support whatever it was he was trying to do.
So it is with his thoughts about being a member of this year’s class of inductees into the CT Hockey Hall of Fame.
“I think I’ve been real fortunate, in that I’ve been part of a first-class organization,” Gernander said recently. “They do everything they can to try to promote the team’s success. And I’ve just always been able to work with real quality people and character people, and I think that’s been a huge blessing and something that I’m very thankful for, is just the quality of people I’ve been able to work with and associate with.”
Having said that, Gernander is quick to point out that being honored as one of the best that ever was, in a place that has been home to so many great hockey people, is a source of tremendous personal pride.
“It’s obviously pretty special to me, in that I’ve spent 15 years here,” he said. “That’s more than I’ve spent in any once place, and any time you get recognized in a positive light and for being involved in something you love, like the sport of hockey, it’s a good feeling.
Fox 61 Sports anchor Rich Coppolla will emcee the CT Hockey Hall of Inductions March 10, 2012.
The ceremony will honor Hartford Whalers players Mike Liut, captain Pat Verbeek and Blaine Stoughton, Connecticut Whale coach Ken Gernander, three-time Olympian and all-time NCAA women’s hockey scoring leader Julie Chu, a Fairfield native, Hockey Hall of Famer Brian Leetch and the late William E. Barnes, one of the founders of the World Hockey Association’s New England Whalers with Whale chairman and CEO Howard Baldwin.
According to CT Hockey Hall of Fame Chairman Mark Willand, "Rich is the ideal choice for this role. He is a longtime supporter of Connecticut hockey at all levels and has a great deal of knowledge about each inductee."
Rich Coppola has been a part of the "FOX 61 News at Ten" team since March of 1989, working as the station's Sports Director.
An East Haven, Connecticut native, Rich began his broadcasting career in radio at KC 101 in New Haven. From there, he continued his career working as a field producer for ESPN and then as a sportscaster at the NBC affiliate in Springfield, Massachusetts.
In addition to preparing and delivering nightly sportscasts for the "Fox 61 News at Ten," Rich also co-anchors "Fox 61 Sports Ticket," Connecticut's only prime-time weekend sports wrap-up program which airs locally Saturdays and Sundays at 10:45 pm. "Sports Ticket" has been nominated on several occasions for a New England Emmy Award.
On seven occasions, Rich has been honored by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA) as the winner of the Connecticut Sportscaster of the Year. In 1991 and 1997, he won the Associated Press Award for best sportscast.
By Bruce Berlet
“I’m a true believer that you can’t have success on the ice if you don’t have success off it, and Brian Leetch is a champion in life and a champion on the ice,” said Adam Graves, who played more games with Leetch than any other player (690). “As a player, he was as tough a competitor as I ever played with. People always think of toughness as playing on the edge, but he always ended the season 10-15 pounds lighter because he played 30 minutes a game against the other team’s best players, matching them physically and surpassing them mentally.
“His ability and how he could read the game was superior to everyone. He could control a game, and not too many guys can do that. There wasn’t an A, B and C game. There was only an A game because he brought it every night. His effort and passion never changed, which made him the special player he was.”
It’s also a major reason that Leetch is one of the seven new members of the Connecticut Hockey Hall of Fame to be inducted and recognized on March 10 as the Connecticut Whale host the Norfolk Admirals at the XL Center. It will be the fourth Hall of Fame to include Leetch, who is already in the United States Hockey (2008), NHL (2009) and Boston College (2011) shrines in addition to his number being retired at MSG. This time he will be inducted with former Hartford Whalers players Mike Liut, captain Pat Verbeek and Blaine Stoughton, Connecticut Whale coach Ken Gernander, three-time Olympian and all-time NCAA women’s hockey scoring leader Julie Chu, a Fairfield native, and the late William E. Barnes, one of the founders of the World Hockey Association’s New England Whalers with Whale chairman and CEO Howard Baldwin.
“This is great, especially with the group of people that I’m going in with,” Leetch said of his impending latest Hall of Fame induction. “I didn’t know there was a Connecticut Hockey Hall of Fame, but I was fortunate and happy to have grown up in a town like Cheshire and enjoyed playing there.
In 1985, Liut was traded to the Hartford Whalers where, in his second season, he led the NHL in shutouts with four. In that same season, Liut backstopped the Whalers into the Adams Division Semifinals, where they were defeated by the Montreal Canadiens in OT of the seventh game in a memorable playoff series. The Canadiens went on to win the Stanley Cup that year. In 1986–87, Liut led the Whalers to their first and only Adams Division title and was named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team. He also posted the league's best goals-against average with the Whalers in 1989–90.
Seven New Hall of Famers to be Honored during March 10 CT Whale Home Game
HARTFORD, January 28, 2012: Whalers Sports & Entertainment and the CT Hockey Hall of Fame today announced the seven inductees who have been selected to form the new 2012 class of enshrinees to the CT Hockey Hall of Fame. The newly-selected hall of famers will be honored at the Connecticut Whale’s March 10 home game at the XL Center vs. the Norfolk Admirals, which will be “CT Hockey Hall of Fame Night”. The seven new CT Hockey Hall of Fame inductees are: Connecticut-bred Hockey Hall of Famer Brian Leetch, ex-Hartford Whalers 56-goal scorer Blaine Stoughton, former Whalers goaltender Mike Liut, former Whalers captain Pat Verbeek, Connecticut Whale/Hartford Wolf Pack franchise icon, long-time captain and current head coach Ken Gernander, three-time Olympic medalist for Team USA and all-time NCAA women’s leading scorer Julie Chu, and one of the founders of the New England Whalers, William E. Barnes.
This new class of seven enshrinees will join the eight members of the storied Hartford Whalers Hall of Fame that have been adopted by the CT Hockey Hall of Fame.