Bill Collins, Larry Bolonchuk, Jean Lemieux and Tony White were among familiar names cut loose by the Washington Capitals as the hockey club treated today's free-agent deadline more as spring housecleaning than a time for negotiation.
A notable exception was team captain Yvon Labre, whose California-based agent was here for last minute bargaining with General Manager Max McNab.
"We're right there and I see no problem," McNab said. "We know what Yvon does for us. We'd like to get it settled."
The Capital careers of Collins, Bolonchuk, Lemieux, White, Gord Brooks, Paul Nickolson, Alex Forsyth and Brian Kinsella apparently became history when McNab did not offer them new contracts. The players are free to negotiate with other clubs, without a need for compensation.
Ace Bailey, who was playing out an old-style contract, will probably wind up in similar circumstances, but if he should sign with someone else before Aug. 10 the Capitals will be due compensation.
'We haven't given Ace an offer at this point" McNab said. "We'll go by the deadline and take our chances, see the results of the draft and our other dealings."
On the subject of deals, McNab said, "We'ill likely have something to announce prior to the draft (June 15). There are a couple of moves we're fairly close on, involving our extra draft choices (a second and a third). We don't want to touch our first round and we won't cut ourselves completely out of any round."
The Capitals are expected to choose center Ryan Walter, a Vancouver native who played for the Seattle Breakers of the Western Canada Hockey League, in the first round of the amateur draft. Washington will pick second, behind Minnesota.
Walter, however, has been talking with the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association, and McNab said. "There is competition. This is not unlike any other year."
The Capitals have failed only once to sign a high draft choice, losing first-rounder Buzz Carroll to the WHA Cincinnati Stingers in 1976.
After making his own decisions, McNab awaited the official list of NHL free agents and their compensation requirements. Owner Abe Pollin has promised to pursue free-agent talent as part of a crusade to strengthen the Capitals.
Collins, 34, played for seven NHL teams after moving up from the Baltimore Clippers in 1967. He is a penalty-killing specialist who scored 10 goals in 74 games last season. His future became apparent when he sat on the bench the last two weeks.
Bolonchuk, 26, filled in capably on defense for 49 games during the Capitals' injury crisis last winter but wound up back in the minors. Lemieux, 26, a good power-play point man, scored three goals in 16 games before he was returned to Hershey of the American Hockey League.
White, 23, scored 25 goals in his rookie season in 1975-76 and was the cover boy of the Capitals' press guide the following year. His goal production dipped to 12, however, and last season he was assigned to Hershey, where he scored 24 in 68 games.
Brooks, 27, recorded one goal in 38 games during the Capitals' inaugural season of 1974-75. He spent the last three years with the Philadelphia Firebirds, leading the American League in scoring last season with 98 points and the North American League the previous year with 123.
Nicholson collected four goals in 62 games scattered over three campaigns. Last season, at Port Huron of the International League, he totaled 34 goals and 80 points.
Forsyth was Washington's first draft pick in 1975, but he played only one game as a Capital, spending last season with Tulsa of the Central League, where he had 15 goals in 69 games. Kinsella, injury-plagued throughout his career, was a 10-game Capital who last season neeted 11 goals in 34 games at Port Huron.
Pete Scamurra, recuperating from surgery, is technically a free agent, but he is likely at least to be invited to training camp in September. Scamurra was a regular defenseman in 1975-76 until forced out by the first of a series of leg injuries.