The major items on the Washington Capitals' spring agenda are the expiring contracts of General Manager Max McNab and defenseman Rick Green.
In each case, the man in question figures to remain with the Capitals. Neither, however, is a certainty to stay around after the termination date on their contracts of June 30.
Team owner Abe Pollin, asked about McNab's status, said, "I've had so many other things to worry about. Max has been a good general manager and he is highly respected by everybody in the league. I'm going to think about it and talk about it, and then we'll sit down in a few days."
McNab, on the same subject, said, "I'm sure Mr. Pollin will be evaluating everything. I'm going to be working on a lot of preliminary matters leading up to the draft."
McNab, who received an extension in September 1977, along with departed Tom McVie, has been here 4 1/2 years and the Capitals have yet to make the playoffs. That, on the face of it, would be sufficient grounds for dismissal.
The extenuating circumstances, however, are endless. McNab took over a team that in 1 1/2 seasons had improved not one iota while recording the worst record in hockey history. Operating without a blank check, he built it to respectability. Only an incredible run of injuries kept Washington from the playoffs this year and, at that, the Capitals just missed.
If there is a criticism of McNab, it is his reluctance to make trades, and he has engineered few during his stay here. Yet patience is a virtue, too, and McNab has made good use of the draft choices he has retained.
Pollin has relied heavily on McNab while learning the hockey business himself. But he has seen fit often to laud Coach Gary Green, while omitting praise of the GM. Last summer Pollin tried to hire Scotty Bowman, but was thwarted. He may try some more big names.
And there is Gary Green, who was both coach and general manager at Peterborough. Green is an ambitious workaholic and he presently has four hours a day for which he can find no better use than sleeping. He would probably relish handling both jobs, with his own man as an assistant in charge of paperwork.
Peter O'Malley, the contract negotiator, has begun talks with Norm Caplan, Rick Green's agent. Green sought about $150,000 last summer, but was turned own because it would have made him the team's highest-paid player, even though he was coming off a mediocre season.
This year Green was the Capitals' best defenseman and he might get what he wants.
McNab's offseason goals are to add defensive depth, set up a goalie development program and try to establish a more consistent offense, possibly centered around a couple of veteran forwards.
"We have to have nine NHL defensemen, six solid ones and three very close," McNab said.
"Then we have to examine the total goaltending picture. (Wayne) Stephenson did a magnificient job, but we must think about the future and develop some young goalies.
"Other teams have 90- to 100-point men and it's possible for some of our players, with set lines and a stable situation, to reach that.
"We have fewer holes than in the past and our nucleus is young
"Pierre Bouchard did wonders for our defense and Stephenson's play was very helpful. Our wings are pretty young, so maybe we need a veteran or two up front."
That may be bad news for Guy Charron, age 31, attempting a comeback from knee surgery.
Aside from Rick Green, there is litle contract work to occupy O'Malley. The list of players entering their option year is minimal -- Pat Ribble, Mark Lofthouse, Greg Polis, Gary Inness, Pete Scamura, Antero Lehtonen, Eddy Godin, Steve Clippingdale and Claude Noel. Bengt Gustafsson because of a technicality in his World Hockey Association contract, can free himself after the coming season, but he is subject to compensation.
The Capitals' drafting goals must await a decision by Pollin, on whether he wants to plan for the future or gear up for an immediate push forward.
"It should boil down to a policy decision, whether to go for immediate help or the best future prospect," McNab said. "In our position, we need somebody right away, but maybe an 18- or 19-year-old would be best for the franchise."
The minor-league crop is headed by forwards Harvie Pocza, Errol Rausse and Lou Franceschetti, all at Hershey; defenseman Jim McTaggart, who went back for his junior windup at Billings, and goalie Bart Hunter, who brought Regina from last to first as an overage junior.