Abe Pollin, owner and president of the Washington Capitals, said yesterday he is trying to "make an arrangement" to keep the National Hockey League team in Washington.
"We're looking for investors," said Pollin, who has remained mostly silent recently on the future of the Capitals. "We have two or three good prospects now but nothing definite. If that doesn't work out, we'd have to look elsewhere."
Asked specifically if he is looking for new partners or attempting to sell the team, Pollin declined to comment.
"My first preference is to keep the team at Capital Centre," he said in a telephone interview.
Pollin has made no secret of the fact that he would consider offers to buy the hockey team, which lost an estimated $3 million last season. It has never made the playoffs during its eight-year existence.
At next week's NHL board of governors meeting in Toronto, a request for a change of ownership in the Capitals is expected to be on the agenda. However, three individuals reputed to be interested in buying the Capitals have denied any such intentions.
Richard M. Patrick, a Virginia attorney who is the son of former New York Ranger Muzz Patrick and cousin of Craig Patrick, the current Ranger general manager, said yesterday, "That would be nice, but I haven't done any serious moves. I have talked to a few of my partners about getting into that (owning a hockey team) or another sports franchise, but no, I have not entered any negotiations on the Capitals."
Barry Gage, president of MacLean-Hunter Cable Television in Toronto, who had joined forces with Pollin last winter in an attempt to win the Montgomery County cable contract, said yesterday by phone that he is not interested in the team. Gage said he has had no talks with Pollin regarding hockey, but they are still working together on the cable venture.
Jacques J. Moore, a Virginia Cadillac dealer, said he is "not pursuing it . . . I don't want a newspaper trying to promote me as a contender. I do not want to be publicly identified. I've done all I care to do about it. We've looked at each other's positions and they're incompatible."
Moore had been mentioned as a potential buyer as late as last week, but he declined to talk about his interest. "The last conversation I had (with Pollin) should be private," he said.
Peter O'Malley, a Prince George's County attorney and former president of the Capitals who also is the team's legal counsel, has been mentioned in connection with new ownership. O'Malley said yesterday he merely has been working as Pollin's intermediary in discussions with potential buyers.
Capitals' season-ticket holders have not received renewal notices, fueling reports the team might be sold or moved. Also, next season's ticket prices have not been set.
But because the financing of Capital Centre--which Pollin also owns--stipulates that both the Bullets and Capitals must inhabit the building, a move by the hockey team is unlikely. In addition, relocation of any NHL franchise requires a unanimous vote of approval by the league's 21-team board of governors.
Reminded of this, Pollin said only, "Well, obviously there are many details, and as things settle more, I'd be happy to talk. But for now I'd just like to say I am attempting to make an arrangement to keep the Capitals here in Washington."