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”.

CT Hockey Hall of FameThe 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.

Leetch, who was raised in Cheshire, CT, was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.  Leetch played prep school hockey at Avon Old Farms before going on to Boston College and an 18-year NHL career.  Drafted ninth overall by the New York Rangers in 1986, Leetch would go on to become the highest-scoring defenseman, and second-highest-scoring player overall, in Ranger history.  Leetch skated in 1,129 games for the Broadway Blueshirts in 17 seasons and totaled 741 assists, a franchise career record, along with 240 goals and 981 points, second only to Rod Gilbert’s 1,021 in Ranger history.

Leetch was captain of the Rangers from 1997-98 to 1999-00, and became the first American-born player ever to capture the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1994, the year the Rangers ended a 53-year championship drought by winning the Stanley Cup.  Following his Ranger tenure, and 15 games with Toronto in 2003-04, Leetch finished his career with the Bruins in 2005-06.

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Stoughton spent six seasons with the New England and Hartford Whalers, leading the NHL in goal scoring for Hartford during the 1979-80 season with 56. Stoughton would top 90 points twice in the NHL, and went on to skate in the 1982 All-Star Game. Stoughton would continue his relationship with Connecticut hockey during the 1984-85 season, in which he played for the New Haven Nighthawks.

Liut, a veteran of 15 WHA and NHL seasons, backstopped the Whalers from the 1984-85 season until 1989-90, guiding the Whalers to the seventh game of the Adams Division Championship series in 1986. Liut captured the Lester B. Pearson trophy during the 1980-81 season with St. Louis, and went on to post the NHL’s best goals-against average in 1989-90 with the Whalers (2.64). Following his playing career, Liut served three years at the University of Michigan as an assistant coach for their men’s hockey program.

Verbeek, a right wing hailing from Sarnia, Ontario, played six seasons for the Hartford Whalers from 1989-95 and ranks twelfth on the all-time list of games played as a Whaler with 433. Verbeek served as the eighth captain of the Whalers from 1992-95.  Verbeek totaled 192 goals as a member of the Whalers, fourth all-time, and 211 assists, also good for fourth all-time. His 403 total points in a Hartford uniform ranks third in franchise history, behind Ron Francis and Kevin Dineen. Verbeek also registered 1,144 penalty minutes with the Whalers, also third all-time. He was selected to represent Hartford in the 1991 NHL All-Star Game in Chicago, recording one assist.  A 19-year professional, Verbeek skated in a career total of 1,424 NHL contests with the New Jersey Devils, Whalers, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars, scoring 522 goals with 541 assists for 1,063 points, along with 2,905 penalty minutes, eleventh-most all-time in league history.

Gernander has been with the Whale/Wolf Pack since Day One and is the only player in franchise history to have his number (12) retired and raised to the XL Center rafters.  Gernander played the last 11 of his 14 professional seasons in the New York Rangers organization with their AHL affiliates in Binghamton (1994-97) and Hartford (1997-2005). He was team captain for 10 years, eight in Hartford, and is the franchise’s all-time leader in shorthanded goals (14), plus-minus (plus-93), games played (599) and playoff games played (78). He also ranks second all-time in goals (160), assists (187), points (347), power-play goals (50) and game-winning goals (30).

After retiring as a player after the 2004-05 season, Gernander was an assistant coach under Jim Schoenfeld for three years and is now in his fifth season as head coach, the longest-tenured head man in franchise history. He retired as the AHL’s all-time leader in career playoff games played (123), and is the second all-time leading scorer among American-born players with 624 points in 973 games.

Chu, born in Bridgeport, Conn., became the all-time leading women’s scorer in NCAA history during her time at Harvard University while serving as team captain, and played in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics for Team USA. Among her many awards and accolades, Chu has been named a four-time All American, is the all-time NCAA assist leader, a three-time NCAA Frozen Four finalist, and won an NCAA championship as an assistant coach with the University of Minnesota-Duluth women’s team during the 2007-08 season. Chu has played professionally for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League’s Montreal Stars.

Barnes was a founding partner of the original New England Whalers along with Howard Baldwin, going on to spend time with the New York Islanders and winning a pair of Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 1990’s. Barnes, serving as the Vice President of Marketing for the Whalers, played a key role in developing the Whalers’ logo during the 1979-80 season and was known around the league as the “Dean of NHL Marketing Directors.” He earned this designation with such innovations as integrating telemarketing into ticket sales strategies, and by being a leader in the development of dasher-board and in-ice advertising.

Barnes was involved in a number of charitable organizations before his passing in 2006.

This will be the first class of inductees since 1990, and further details are available at cthockeyHOF.org.

There will be an induction ceremony before the March 10 CT Hockey Hall of Fame Night game, which faces off at 7:00 PM, and the new inductees will also be recognized on the ice during the first intermission.

Fans can take home a special souvenir of the March 10 night, as 5,000 Hall of Fame posters will be given away, courtesy of SuperCuts.

There will also be a special meet-and-greet event on March 10 — details to be announced soon.

Tickets to CT Hockey Hall of Fame Night, and all 2011-12 Whale home games, are on sale now at the Public Power Ticket Office at the XL Center, as well as on-line at www.ctwhale.com and through TicketMaster Charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000.

Save on your tickets, and get the best seats, with a ticket plan for the Whale’s 2011-12 AHL campaign, which are on sale now. For information on season seats and mini plans, visit www.ctwhale.com, or call the CT Whale ticket office at (860) 728-3366 to talk with an account executive today.

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