Howard Baldwin is an American entrepreneur and film producer. Baldwin founded the New England Whalers ice hockey franchise in the WHA and has also owned part of the Minnesota North Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins NHL franchises. He won the Stanley Cup in 1992 with Pittsburgh. The WHA's coach of the year award was originally named the Howard Baldwin Trophy in his honor.
New England/Hartford Whalers
Baldwin became one of the youngest executives in professional sports when he became a founder and partner of the World Hockey Association’s (WHA) Boston-based Whalers in 1971 at the age of 28. Five years later he was president of the league. The Whalers first season in the WHA was a success both on and off the ice with coach Jack Kelley’s team winning the 1973 AVCO World Cup Championship. In 1974, Baldwin determined that the team needed its own building. He moved the Whalers from Boston to Hartford’s new Civic Center Coliseum, a vehicle for the revitalization of downtown Hartford. In 1979 Baldwin guided the WHA into a historic merger with the National Hockey League. Baldwin served as the managing general partner of the Whalers until the team was sold to local ownership in 1988.
Baldwin's specialty was buying franchises with very little of his own money invested. For example, his actual cash investment in the Penguins was just $1,000. The rest was assumed debt and capital provided by other partners. His purchase of the Penguins was bankrolled largely by Morris Belzberg. Baldwin served as the Penguins Chairman of the Board and represented the club on the NHL Board of Governors. Under his direction the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, two Patrick Division regular season titles and the President’s Trophy. In addition to the NHL team, Baldwin and his partners created the American Hockey League expansion franchise in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1998 as the minor league affiliate of the NHL Penguins. When Belzberg left the ownership group, Baldwin recruited Roger Marino, a Boston investor. By that time, the Penguins were struggling financially and wound up declaring bankruptcy in November 1998.