The Washington Capitals' executive committee met yesterday for the first time since the end of the regular season and the atmosphere apparently was one of business as usual.
There has been speculation that team owner Abe Pollin has been trying to sell the Capitals. Pollin was not returning reporters' phone calls yesterday.
"We made an evaluation of our contractual obligations, took an overview of players available and gave consideration to players with expiring contracts we may want to re-sign or offer termination contracts," said General Manager Max McNab, a committee member along with Pollin, Coach Gary Green, Capital Centre President Jerry Sachs and legal counsels Peter O'Malley and David Osnos.
In the past, McNab has said that he never had been restricted monetarily by Pollin in going after talented players needed to improve the club. Asked whether that situation still prevailed, McNab said:
"I would think so, if we can show him it's a player we really need. Last year we wanted to improve our goaltending and we did. We'll be doing the same thing this year if we see holes. We have our priorities listed. We'll have to see if we can get the players."
Washington will pick fifth in the June amateur draft and some of the higher-finishing clubs are trying to deal their way into better selections. The Capitals, since McNab's arrival, have declined to trade first-round choices, except one for Dennis Maruk in a year Washington had an extra No. 1.
"There has been a lot of heavy pressure by some of the clubs for top draft choices," McNab said. "Much of it is directed at Winnipeg, which has the first pick, but we have received a couple of expressions of interest. We haven't changed our position at this point, though."
McNab recently met with the team's scouting staff in Windsor, Ontario, during the Memorial Cup, and they completed preliminary work for the draft. McNab said that character checks on some of the more desirable junior players were continuing.
Among Washington-owned players with expiring contracts is Mark Lofthouse, the American League scoring champion. Although the Capitals have made it known they would like to trade Lofthouse, McNab said that "only one club has shown any interest at this point." McNab said decisions would be forthcoming soon on the future status of Jean Pronovost, Dennis Ververgaert, Tony Cassolato and Archie Henderson.