``He's very set back by it. He loved it in St. Louis,'' Rutherford said. ``He wanted to win a Stanley Cup in St. Louis. We've got to talk to him again, ease the blow.''

Although there are deferments and bonuses to complicate his contract, the Blues are going to pick up about $1 million of Shanahan's contract. The Whalers will pay Shanahan about $3.3 million a year for the remaining three years of his deal.

The Blues will pay all of the $2.825 million due Pronger this season and $925,000 next season.

Said Pronger: ``It feels good they've got me at that same level [as Shanahan]. Obviously, Shanahan was an important thing missing from our team last year. It hurt. A power forward who could score. We lost games 3-2, 2-1. A goal a game makes a difference.''

In previous seasons, Shanahan and Craig Janney played terrific hockey together, similar in many ways to Neely and Adam Oates in Boston. But Keenan didn't like Janney's play and outlook from the start and finally traded the Enfield native to San Jose last season.

Then Keenan turned on Shanahan. He questioned Shanahan's work ethic, too, and for a time it appeared as if he would deal Shanahan -- immensely popular in St. Louis -- before the trade deadline.

Shanahan missed the January preseason minicamp and the first three games of the season with mononucleosis. He scored eight goals and 16 points in the first 23 games. He rebounded for 12 goals and 25 points in his final 22 games.

Although 20 goals and 41 points in 45 games would have led the Whalers in both categories, it was far short of the 1993-94 numbers: 52 goals and 102 points in 81 games. The previous year, Shanahan had 51 goals in 71 games.

``When Brendan was having problems in St. Louis earlier in the year, I made the phone call that I'm sure all the other teams made,'' Rutherford said. ``At that time they said there was no way they would move Brendan. I was approached at the draft in Edmonton by Mike Keenan wondering if I would move Chris Pronger. The answer was no, and that still would be my preference.

``Out of the blue the last couple of days, talks heated up. Mike said he might move Shanahan, but Pronger had to be part of the deal.''

Rutherford said Whalers team physician John Fulkerson reviewed Shanahan's medical reports with Blues doctors. Rutherford said Fulkerson told him he was satisfied Shanahan's leg will be fine.

``When I talked about the kind of player we needed, certainly this is a guy who would be at the top of the list,'' Rutherford said. ``I don't want to build this team just to make the playoffs. I want to build it knowing we can compete in the playoffs.

``Look at New Jersey and Philadelphia. They are big, strong teams. To compete with those teams, you have to have size up front.''