Mike Gartner, the Washington Capitals' No. 1 selection in the National Hockey League entry draft, came here today from his home in Barrie, Ontario, and signed a two-year contract.
Gartner, still only 19, played with Cincinnati in the World Hockey Association last year after passing up his final junior season. Despite three injuries that reduced his playing time, Gartner collected 27 goals.
The holdup in signing Gartner did not directly concern the Captials' contract offer. Gartner had sought compensation from the NHL similar to that granted five players from the WHA'S defunct Birmingham club who had protested their inclusion in the entry draft.
The NHL has refused to give Gartner a similar payment and he is taking the league to court. In effect, the Capitals also are a defendant in the suit and General Manager Max McNab said, "We'll pay our share."
"I had hoped to get the whole thing worked out," Gartner said, "but at least we have finally separated one from the other. I've been sitting home for a week and a half and I'm ready to play some hockey.
"I don't think I'm too badly out of shape, but I've missed a week now while we were trying to straighten this out. I should be ready to play early next week."
Gartner said there were no conditions attached to the Capitals' contract in regard to the NHL claim. If he fails to get the money from the league, there will be no attempt to renegotiate.
The Capitals open exhibition play Friday night at Johnstown, Pa., against the Pittsburgh Penguins . . . A rookie team will face the Philadelphia Flyers' rookies, coached by Bobby Clarke, here at 11:30 a;m. . . . The Senators, captained by Guy Charron, won the President's Cup by defeating the Governors, 6-2 . . . The Governors were missing Antero Lehtonen, who has a broken little finger on his left hand, and Rolf Edberg, sprained ankle . . . Bengt-Ake Gustafsson led the tournament scoring with six goals.