The fate of the Washington Capitals was not taken up by the NHL Board of Governors today, but league President John Ziegler confirmed that Capitals owner Abe Pollin is looking for buyers for his hockey team.
"Abe Pollin has indicated publicly that he is looking for new partners or investors," Ziegler said. "His first choice is the operation of the club in Washington, but he would also consider operation of his team in another city."
Ziegler said that no proposals for change of ownership of the Capitals were before the board. "There is nothing to discuss regarding Washington," he said.
Peter O'Malley, the Capitals' legal counsel and alternate governor, declined to comment on the situation.
Pollin, in San Diego for the NBA meetings, could not be reached for comment.
According to Ziegler, the Capitals will not be an item of discussion when the governors meet Tuesday. However, the subject could "be recalled on a 48-hour notice. As for a matter of considering any change of ownership, there is no proposal before us."
Last week, Pollin told The Washington Post he was seeking investors for the franchise, which lost an estimated $3 million last season. During the team's eight-year existence, it never has reached the playoffs.
The Capitals' problems stirred reports that the team might move, merge or fold altogether. But when Ziegler was asked how serious the Washington problem is as it relates to the league, he replied, "It's absolutely no problem, and would only become one if Washington were to declare it won't operate."
Ziegler quickly reiterated that Pollin is searching for buyers, and added, "My understanding is that each member of the league has an obligation to operate. They (the Capitals) have not said they won't operate."
Ziegler also said that any possibility last spring that Washington and Colorado would merge was never seriously enough considered to reach the board level.
The board's main objective today was approval of the sale of the Detroit Red Wings to Mike Ilitch. The board also passed its budget, discussed television agreements and officially welcomed John McMullen, who purchased the Colorado team and moved it to the New Jersey Meadowlands.