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Hurricanes’ Al Iafrate Retires

September 1, 1998 GMT

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ Defenseman Al Iafrate retired Tuesday after 13 seasons in the NHL and less than two months since the Carolina Hurricanes acquired him in hopes he could renew a career hampered by chronic knee injuries.

The Hurricanes took a chance on the 32-year-old in July, signing him to a salary loaded with incentives. But the club said Iafrate _ a four-time all-star with a 105-mph slap shot _ hasn’t responded well to rehabilitation.

``We share Al’s disappointment in having to announce his retirement,″ Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford said. ``We knew when we signed him that his health may prove to be a question mark.″

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Iafrate may try another comeback. He intends to have another knee operation and take more time to rehabilitate his knee, Rutherford said. But he will forgo his contract with the Hurricanes.

Iafrate ``should be commended for his decision to retire before coming to camp,″ Rutherford said. ``He could have reported to camp and at least earned his base salary which we agree to (in July).″

Iafrate’s base salary would have been $300,000 with incentives for games played and level of production.

With training camp opening on Sept. 14, the Hurricanes must now look for another scoring defenseman to aid their power play.

Iafrate missed the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons due to back and knee injuries and only played 59 games over the past two seasons with the San Jose Sharks.

Originally drafted by Toronto in 1984, Iafrate spent 6 1/2 seasons with the Maple Leafs before being traded to Washington in 1991. With the Capitals he established career highs in goals (25) and points (66) during the 1992-93 season. He was traded to Boston for Joe Juneau but only played 12 games with the Bruins before his injuries.

Iafrate was picked by Nashville in the recent expansion draft but became a free agent on July 1. The Hurricanes announced his signing July 14, one day after the Hurricanes signed center Ron Francis.

For his career, Iafrate played 799 games and recorded 153 goals and 463 points.