Roger Crozier will remain indefinitely as acting general manager of the Washington Capitals, he was told in a recent meeting with owner Abe Pollin.

"Mr. Pollin wants time to think the whole situation out, to evaluate his position and determine what direction he wants to take," Crozier said yesterday. "He has so many things on his mind right now, not to mention the disappointment at not making the playoffs, it's not fair for me or (Coach) Bryan (Murray) to pressure him into making decisions on us when he has bigger ones."

Pollin has declined to comment to The Washington Post about the Capitals' future.

Meanwhile, the Capitals' chief talent searcher, Jack Button, is in Europe checking out available talent because, starting this year, Europeans who want to play in the National Hockey League must go through the June draft, regardless of age.

Scout David Conte soon will head for Finland, where he once played, to watch the World Ice Hockey Championships, which begin April 15. Crozier, after clearing up some details at Capital Centre, will turn to the junior playoffs, focusing on Portland (center Ken Yaremchuk and defenseman Gary Nylund) and Lethbridge (defenseman Vern Smith and the Sutter twins, right wing Rich and center Ron).

"My obligation is to do the best job I can to keep things going until such time as the decisions are made," Crozier said. "This is a crucial time and a lot of things have to be done between now and June.

"I think Bryan has done a great job for us and it's important that people like him be retained in the organization, no matter what happens. I think we've made a lot of progress this year . . . I hope we can make more strong moves by draft time."

Murray plans to watch the Hershey farm club, which has home playoff games Saturday and Tuesday, and some Stanley Cup playoff games.

"We've got to get four or five hockey players," Murray said. "How we do it, if we can do it, I don't know. We may have to sacrifice middle draft choices for bigger hockey players. We can play with teams that skate, but we have difficulty with teams that hit like the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins.

"We have to upgrade our defense. We have to make a decision on six defensemen, instead of carrying eight the way we have been, and of those six we need one or two new ones. We need consistent goaltending, too. Maybe Mike Palmateer, if he gets the go-ahead and works hard over the summer, can give us 35 games next year.

"We need another line, too, a center and right wing to play with Torrie (Robertson) or with a bigger, stronger player who can beat Torrie out. One thing, no question, we need to use our No. 1 pick to get someone who can step in and play on this club right away."