The Whalers say they can't make it in Connecticut and have agreed to pay the state a $20.5-million penalty to leave after this season.
Gov. John G. Rowland said owner Peter Karmanos had closed the door to further talks that might keep the state's only major-league franchise from leaving.
Karmanos said the state's offer was substantial but still would have resulted in continuing financial losses.
Nashville, St. Paul and Columbus frequently have been mentioned as sites jockeying for the Whalers.
ELSEWHERE: Phoenix RW Jocelyn Lemieux will be out for two weeks with a hairline break in his forearm. The NHL suspended LW Andrei Nazarov 13 games for physically abusing an official. Anaheim and Vancouver will open the 1997-98 season in Tokyo.