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THE WHALE PLEDGES TO REMAIN IN HARTFORD UNTIL 1999

     Whalers GM Jim Rutherford said yesterday that if the entire
NHL season is canceled because of the labor dispute, the team
will not count its projected $8M loss against a four-year minimum
guarantee to remain in Hartford.  As part of the June sale
agreement with the CT Development Authority, the new Whalers
ownership group is allowed to move to another city if it has
suffered cumulative operating losses of more than $30M after 4
years.  Rutherford assured fans that if there is no hockey this
season, the ownership group will pledge to remain in Hartford
through the 1998-99 season.  Rutherford, however, did say that if
"half or three-quarters of the season is played," then the team
will consider that a full season: "I believe this is evidence of
our commitment to Hartford.  We believe that it can work here if
we can get a collective bargaining agreement that makes sense."
Rutherford added that under the current CBA, the Whalers
projected losses for a full 84-game season would be $9M.  A
canceled season will cost the team close to $8M (Jeff Jacobs,
HARTFORD COURANT, 10/20).
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