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Jose Theodore, Washington Capitals may part

José Theodore had a strong finish to the regular season for Washington, but was pulled from the playoffs for the second straight year.
José Theodore had a strong finish to the regular season for Washington, but was pulled from the playoffs for the second straight year. (Toni L. Sandys/the Washington Post)
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By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 9, 2010

José Theodore's tenure with the Washington Capitals appears to be over.

The agent for the veteran goaltender, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, said Tuesday that there have been no discussions with the Capitals regarding an extension.

"They haven't communicated with me at all," Don Meehan said from his Toronto area office.

Meehan declined to elaborate. But with only 23 days remaining before Theodore, 33, hits the open market, the likelihood of the sides opening negotiations and reaching a deal are extremely unlikely.

Theodore signed a two-year contract in 2008 to bridge the gap to the Capitals' touted goaltending prospects, Semyon Varlamov and Michael Neuvirth. Barring another move, it appears the team is prepared to go into next season with the 22-year-olds battling for playing time.

Going with Varlamov and Neuvirth also gives the Capitals more salary cap flexibility. Each goalie has a cap hit of $821,667 in 2010-11, while Theodore earned $4.5 million last season.

Varlamov was 15-4-6 last season with a .909 save percentage and a 2.55 goals against average after overcoming groin and knee injuries. Neuvirth, meanwhile, posted a 9-4-0 record to go along with a .914 save percentage and a 2.75 goals against average. He is currently tending goal for the American Hockey League's Hershey Bears in the Calder Cup finals.

As for Theodore, if he does not return, it would bring to an end a two-year tenure filled with ups and downs, on and off the ice.

After an uneven November and December while he struggled privately with the August death of his infant son, Theodore was significantly better in the second half, going 20-0-3 to close out the regular season. Overall, he finished with a 30-7-7 record, a .911 save percentage and a 2.81 goals against average.

But Theodore was pulled in the playoffs for the second straight spring, replaced by Varlamov after a shaky start to Game 2 in the first round against Montreal and did not return as the Capitals fell in seven games.

Despite being pulled again, Theodore had remained open to returning.

"José can't control anything as far as his association with Washington," Meehan said. "It's a matter of going to free agency on July 1 if Washington chooses not to establish a relationship with him. He's a veteran, he's been around a long time, he's positive."

Later this month, Theodore will be in Las Vegas for the NHL Awards, where he is a finalist for the Bill Masterton Trophy, awarded to the player who demonstrates sportsmanship, perseverance and dedication to the game.

General Manager George McPhee declined to comment through a team spokesman. Theodore did not return a message.

Capitals note: The team is in discussions with restricted free agent Eric Fehr on a multiyear extension, according to Meehan, whose agency also represents the 24-year-old winger. "We're working on it," Meehan said. "We've had a good start in relation to our discussions." Despite ranking 22nd in ice time on the Capitals (12:07), Fehr was ninth in points with 21 goals and 18 assists for the league's top offense. Fehr, who is arbitration eligible, earned $772,000 last season.


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