While the Washington Capitals await Bobby Carpenter's decision, they made a few of their own yesterday, the deadline for tendering new contract proposals to those entering the option year. Among those who found unwelcome handwriting on the wall were center Guy Charron and right wing Dennis Ververgaert.
Charron and Ververgaert were not offered extensions; instead, they were asked to sign termination contracts.That means they will be expected to play this season under terms of their expiring contracts and, barring altered managerial opinions, would become free agents June 30.
"My back's against the wall and I'm expecting the worst," said Charron, the longtime Capital standout who has seen limited duty the last two seasons because of injuries and the indifference of Coach Gary Green. "But until it happens, I'm keeping my fighting spirit.
"I'm working hard and I'm going to try to be in the best shape possible to go to camp. In my mind I know I can play effectively for the Washington Capitals. All I want is a fair chance to play. If I get it, then it's up to me to prove I can still play hockey."
Carpenter has set a Sept. 1 deadline on his decision whether to join the Capitals or attend Providence College, which begins freshman indoctrination that day. It is believed a contractual assurance that he would not be sent to the minors would prompt Carpenter to head for Washington, but the Capitals are reluctant to grant such assurance.
"We don't feel Bobby Carpenter would have to be in the minors very long, but if the possibility arose it would not be smart on our part to have him not playing on a regular basis," McNab said. "Other players like (Bob) Sauve and (Lee) Fogolin had clauses that they had to stay in the NHL and it hurt them so much to sit around not playing that they eventually agreed to go to the minors."
Charron, 32, is the Capitals' career scoring leader. He received an offer to play in West Germany in the coming season, but turned it down because his wife is expecting a baby in September. "And," he said, "I am still under contract to the Capitals and still think I can play in the National Hockey League."
"Guy is entering his option year and we didn't feel we could extend him a new contract, since any offer would automatically be for two years (the upcoming season plus an additional option)," said Washington General Manager Max McNab.
Ververgaert, 28, came to camp as a free agent last fall and earned a one-and-one contract and a regular job. However, he scored only 14 goals in 79 games and was not a popular figure with the Capital Centre regulars.
Offers most definitely were tendered to three others entering their option seasons: center Dennis Maruk, right wing Mike Gartner and left wing Bob Kelly. Kelly is close to agreeing to new terms. Gartner, who opened training camp yesterday with Canada's entry in the Canada Cup, is still a distance apart, although McNab said he was confident there would be no problem. In Maruk's case, after some prodding, McNab said he was reasonably confident of some agreement.
Maruk, a 50-goal scorer, is believed to be a marketable commodity in the Capitals' continuing search for an offensive-minded defenseman who can move the puck. "We have been working on a couple of things," McNab said of trade possibilities.
Goalie Gary Inness is a free agent, his contract having expired, and McNab said it was not decided whether Inness would be invited to camp.