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STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS | NHL NOTES

Before Raleigh, Whalers May Go to Fayetteville

May 03, 1997|From Associated Press

Barring an 11th-hour deal with the Greensboro Coliseum, the Hartford Whalers will move their temporary NHL home to Fayetteville, N.C., a team official said Friday.

A package to move the Whalers to the smaller Cumberland County Crown Coliseum for a two-year temporary stay could be approved by Whaler owner Peter Karmanos as soon as today, Hartford General Manager Jim Rutherford said.

The team's permanent home will be Raleigh's new $120-million arena, to be completed by 1999. A formal announcement on the move to North Carolina is expected early next week.

"It's pretty obvious that our focus has shifted to Raleigh," Rutherford said when asked if Columbus, Ohio, was still in the running. You can draw your own conclusions with that."

The Centennial Authority, the group that oversees Raleigh's new arena, has scheduled a meeting early Monday morning, most likely to sign the lease agreement with Karmanos.

Rutherford toured the Crown--about an hour southwest of Raleigh--and met with local officials Friday morning. He said the only negative about his visit was the size of the arena, which seats 10,000 for hockey. That would be the smallest in the NHL.

Rutherford said the Crown could work financially if the team targeted corporations, meaning the average ticket price would run $50-$60. The average NHL ticket last season was about $39.

"Obviously, this ticket price will be high here but as long as we can sell out the building, we can make this building work," Rutherford said.

*

Philadelphia Flyer Coach Terry Murray chuckled a few days ago when someone said the Buffalo Sabres have no stars.

"They've got the MVP of the league," he said, referring to Dominik Hasek, who hasn't received the award yet but is favored to become the first goalie to win the Hart Trophy since Jacques Plante in 1962.

That was before the NHL suspended Hasek for the first three games of the teams' best-of-seven playoff series, which starts today in Buffalo, for attacking a Buffalo News reporter last week.

Reminded of his words earlier in the week, Murray insisted the loss of Hasek doesn't tilt the odds in Philadelphia's favor because replacement Steve Shields is playing well.

"There's no question Dominik Hasek is the premier goalie in the league, but they won Games 6 and 7 [in their first playoff series] with Shields," Murray said. "He's hot."

*

Ron Tugnutt, a career backup goalie who led the Ottawa Senators to their first playoff berth, agreed to a multiyear contract.

Tugnutt, 29, was 17-15-1 with a 2.80 goals-against average. In his last 12 starts in place of injured starter Damian Rhodes, Tugnutt was 9-2-1 with three shutouts.

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