The Washington Capitals made a deal for veteran defenseman Don Awrey Saturday night, then learned from a Detroit newspaper yesterday that Awrey had signed a contract with the New York Rangers.

Awrey, 34, played with Pittsburgh last year, but had declined to return to the Penguins. A free agent subject to compensation, he was working out with Boston while negotiation with several clubs. The Capitals are now entitled to compensation from the Rangers in the form of a player, money or both. If the teams are unable to agree, an arbitrator will decide the compensation.

"Nothing is simple in this world," said Washington general manager Max McNab. "But Pittsburgh gave up a lot for Awrey last year, and the compensation should be substantial. It's nice to be dealing with a rich club (the Rangers)."

If the news about Awrey was unwelcome, good tidings were received concerning left wing Craig Patrick, whose injury, following X rays, was diagnosed as a sprained right ankle. It was originally feared, after he was hurt Thursday night, that the problem centered in the achilles tendon.

Defenseman Yvon Labre was improved yesterday after missing Saturday's 3-3 exhibitions tie with Detroit. Labre apparently was suffering from a pulled muscle in the rib cage.

"I got an awful pain like a heart attack," Labre said. "It hurt me even to laugh. It's better now and I even wanted to practice, but they wouldn't let me."

Only six Capitals appeared for yesterday's optional workout in Port Hugan, Mich. Among them was left wing Mike Marson, whose activity Saturday was abruptly terminated in the second period. Marson can expect further disciplinary action from the NHL after shoving referee Bob Kilger and both linesmen.

The basic target of Marson's unbridled temper was Detroit center Dennis Hextall, who fist elbowed Marson and then broke his stick on the Capital's chest Hextall also was ejected.

Center Gerry Meehan and right wing Bill Collins, both suffering from the flu, played at reduced speed and left wing Tony White, hit by a stomach virus, was unable to make the trip to Port Huron after being summoned from the training camp in Hershey, Pa.

The Capitals' workouts switch to Fort Dupont ice rink in Washington today and the team will practice there daily until the regular season begins Oct. 14 at Capital Center against Pitssburgh.

Center Guy Charron, who worked at Hershey while the Capitals made their three-game exhibition swing, will rejoin the team today. Hershey general manager Frank Mathers reported that Charron was skating as well as ever, experiencing no [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]

Right wing Mark Lofthouse and left wing Eddy Godin, the Capitals' No. 2 and 3 draft choices, respectively, were called from Hershey to join the squad in Washington.