Washington Capitals owner Abe Pollin is negotiating with two out of town groups that would like to buy the club and keep it here, The Washington Post has learned.

Details were not available, but sources indicated the negotiations are the last possibilities for survival of hockey at Capital Centre.

However, obstacles have arisen concerning rent, the 10 percent state admissions tax and revenue from concessions, which are controlled by Capital Centre, as a separate legal entity.

Capitals officials said yesterday that owner Abe Pollin can no longer go it alone.

"If Abe Pollin was willing to see the Capitals move, he could sell the team tomorrow," said Peter O'Malley, the Capitals' legal counsel. "Abe has done everything possible, above and beyond what is reasonable, to try to make the thing viable here. Now, after putting a great personal fortune into it, he has made a policy decision that he can't go it alone any longer."

O'Malley's statement can be interpreted as one last appeal for local investors to step forward to keep the Capitals in Washington, before they disappear. Both Pollin and O'Malley have been shocked by the absence of a campaign to save the Capitals since it first became apparent in late March that the team might move.

Shifting the club could be difficult, however. First, there is the matter of satisfying the Equitable Life Assurance Society of America, which holds a $20 million bond as financing for Capital Centre. Pollin might persuade company officials to accept an indoor soccer team, plus Georgetown basketball, as an alternative to the hockey team specified in the loan. If not, he could be required to pay the annual rental now supplied by the Capitals, believed to be about $560,000.

The most likely location for a shifted franchise is Seattle-Tacoma, which has two possible facilities (Kingdome and Seattle Center Coliseum) and a third (Tacoma Dome) that should be finished by March.

Three Washington state groups have contacted the NHL about a possible franchise in the area, but there is a legal complication. Vince Abbey, the owner of the Western Hockey League's Seattle Totems, is suing the NHL as a result of the aborted 1976 expansion in which Abbey was promised a Seattle franchise.

Dick Kerch, Abbey's attorney, told The Washington Post yesterday that he would protest any NHL entry into the area on the grounds that Abbey owned the territorial rights. Neither Kerch nor Abbey would comment further because of the litigation.

San Diego and Dallas have buildings that could house an NHL club, but the sport has been a disaster at the big-league level in the Sun Belt. Arenas in Atlanta, Oakland, Cleveland, Kansas City and Denver stand empty as a grim warning to future investors that hockey can be wearing on the bank account.

The Washington Post has learned that the Capitals' gross receipts last season amounted to only $2.9 million. With an announced average attendance of 11,378 diluted by freebies and discount tickets, this was only $80,000 more than was collected by the collapsing Rockies.

The $2.9 million approximates the salaries of the 37 players under contract, which means that Pollin's losses amounted to everything else needed to operate the club--equipment, travel, game expenses, front-office salaries, insurance, scouting, rent, etc.

It is believed the rent to Capital Centre, a separate corporate entity, is $14,000 a game. While the Capitals have been a financial disaster, the Centre itself, with control of the concessions, continues to be a money maker.

Although the Capitals' office could not supply a breakdown of seats by ticket price, it is estimated that a complete seasonal sellout of all 18,130 seats would gross about $7 million. Ten percent of the gate goes to Prince George's County in admissions taxes, a situation the Centre has been attempting to alter, since objections from the Atlantic Coast Conference precluded return of the conference basketball tournament.

The resulting $6.3 million, assuming a full-price sellout, would barely be enough to break even. Current television revenue, from USA Cable and WDCA-TV-20, is minimal, so any profit would have to come from the playoffs, even if the club should sell out all its regular season games, an unlikely event under any circumstances.

O'Malley pointed out, however, that "the Capitals' sphere of influence is the second largest in the league. With the advent of cable, the potential for revenue is significant."

When Pollin acquired the franchise in 1974, the break-even point was estimated at 12,000 fans per game. At that time, however, salaries were lower and defenseman Rod Seiling, acquired on waivers, was ordered traded by Pollin when it was discovered he was earning $150,000 a season. That salary would not be out of line today and, like everything else in the economy, other operating expenses have increased because of inflation.

The Capitals' ticket prices have not kept pace, primarily because the team's performance could not substantiate an increase. The first season, tickets sold for $8.50, $6.50 and $4. In eight years, they were raised only $2.50 each.