By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 3, 2005
Peter Bondra said he would respond to the Washington Capitals' contract offer before the weekend. And yesterday Bondra and his agent did just that, submitting a counterproposal for an additional year and more money.
The Capitals had offered Bondra, the franchise leader in goals and points, a one-year deal worth $1.5 million.
The counterproposal is for two years and a higher salary, but "substantially less" than what his representative believes to be fair market value, agent Rich Winter said. Winter declined to divulge the specific contract demands.
"Peter feels he is a Capital," Winter said by telephone from Edmonton, Alberta. "His family is in the area. He wants to finish his career in Washington."
Bondra, 37, was traded to Ottawa in February 2004 for prospect Brooks Laich and a second-round draft pick. The Senators declined to exercise the option on Bondra's contract, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Washington reached out to Bondra on the first day of free agency. Last week, Bondra received a phone call from Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis.
Winter said the Capitals' initial offer to Bondra was a one-year contract for $750,000. The offer was later upped to $1.55 million, then reduced to $1.5 million, Winter said.
The Capitals also have refused to include a no-trade clause, according to source close to Bondra. The inclusion of such a clause is another key sticking point in the negotiations.
Bondra said on Tuesday that he was upset by the trade to Ottawa.
"We had a verbal agreement with the [Capitals] that if they are going to trade me, they would give me a chance to think about it, go over it with my family," Bondra said earlier this week after an informal practice at Piney Orchard. "But that day, they just told me. I asked if I had a choice. They said, 'No.' "
Bondra was unavailable to comment yesterday. Capitals General Manager George McPhee declined to comment through a team spokesman.
Winter considers Bondra's peers, in terms of performance, to be Paul Kariya, Ziggy Palffy, Pavol Demitra, Miroslav Satan and Alexei Kovalev. The agent said Bondra has more goals over the past three seasons (95) than those players.
Excluding Bondra, Pittsburgh's Palffy is the lowest-paid of the group ($3.5 million next season) and the oldest at 33.
"Peter is prepared to play for significantly less than his comparables," Winter said.
At the peak of his career, Bondra was one of the fastest skaters and top goal producers in the league. In 13-plus seasons in Washington -- the only team he had played for before being traded to the Senators -- he scored 472 goals and tallied 825 points.
Winter said his client is healthy and wants to play three to four more seasons.
"Bondra likes Ted, and he wants to play for Ted again," Winter said. "He loves the Caps, he loves the fans and the city. And he loves the romantic attachment he has with to the team and the thoughts of finishing his career as a Capital."