Pro Hockey

Bondra Skates With Caps, Won't Play for Them

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Although training camp doesn't open until Sept. 15, several Washington Capitals -- and an old friend -- have been skating together at the Ashburn Ice House. Yesterday, the group included forwards Chris Clark and Dainius Zubrus , defensemen Brian Pothier and Shaone Morrisonn , goalies Olie Kolzig and Brent Johnson , and surprise participant Peter Bondra .

Afterward, Bondra, who played for the Capitals from 1990 to 2004 and remains one of the franchise's most popular players, squashed any speculation of a second stint in Washington.

"We were waiting to hear from the Caps, and last week I got an answer" from General Manager George McPhee , said Bondra, who still has a home in Annapolis. "He said he wasn't interested. So now I have to look at some other options.

"The Caps were my first option," he added. "But unfortunately that isn't going to work out."

Bondra was in negotiations to return to the Capitals last summer but wound up signing a one-year contract with Atlanta, where he tallied 21 goals and 18 assists in 60 games.

The 38-year-old said he's healthy and in good shape and is confident he'll sign a contract somewhere before the season begins next month. He's two goals shy of 500 for his career.

"There's been some general talk with some teams," said Bondra, who declined to specify which ones. "We haven't talked about any numbers. I just have to take my time right now and don't be rushed. The season starts October 6. Even if I miss camp, I can maintain myself in a good shape. Right now, I'm just enjoying skating with Olie again."

Alex Ovechkin , meantime, has been working out in Toronto and will arrive in Washington next week.

-- Tarik El-Bashir

© 2006 The Washington Post Company