The Washington Capitals assigned left wing Andre Hidi and goaltender Bob Mason to Binghamton of the American Hockey League yesterday.

Hidi earned a regular berth with an excellent showing in training camp. However, he played in only six of the Capitals' first nine games, getting two goals and an assist, and Tuesday's recall of Paul Gardner from Binghamton made him odd man out.

"Gardner will play five games here and Hidi will play five games in Binghamton; after that, we'll make a decision," General Manager David Poile said. "Hidi would be the man not playing here while we look at Gardner, and we'd rather have him playing."

Mason was returned to Binghamton, where he began the season, because Al Jensen's knee is sound. Although Mason was outstanding in Binghamton and looked sharp in practice here, he was not given any game time.

The Capitals were honored by the Touchdown Club yesterday at a luncheon that featured an appearance by Mayor Barry, humor both in and out, and one rather heated argument.

Barry called the Capitals "wintertime winners" and said, "I know the value of a successful sports team in improving the image of a city."

Barry was supposed to make symbolic presentations of the trophies won last season by Coach Bryan Murray, defenseman Rod Langway, center Doug Jarvis and goalies Al Jensen and Pat Riggin. However, when the first presentation was announced, red-faced team officials told the mayor the trophies, here for the season opener, had been returned to the NHL.

"I'll thank the mayor for the award that wasn't here," Riggin said. "And if anybody wants any lessons on handling the puck, I'll be available afterward."

Langway also referred to Riggin's mishandling of the puck in Wednesday's 4-3 victory over Calgary, saying, "We're all working hard every night, even if sometimes we make mistakes and stupid stickhandling moves like Pat does."

Owner Abe Pollin had a few words for the team: "I've had a lot of patience with the Capitals. As I've gotten older, my patience has been wearing thin. We'd like to win it this year."

Angry words were exchanged before the luncheon when Capital Centre employes exchanged reserved signs on a table in front of the dais assigned to Arnold Heft, a Capital Centre partner who is suing Pollin, and on one off to the side assigned to Marty Irving, a member of the Capitals' board of directors.

When Heft, a Touchdown Club member, complained loudly, the signs were restored to their original locations. In his lawsuit, Heft alleges Pollin has diverted money from the Centre to alleviate losses incurred by the Capitals and Bullets.

Sportscaster George Michael, the emcee at the luncheon, introduced Bengt Gustafsson as "a personal friend of Tom Barrasso."

Michael was referring to an incident that occurred in an Edmonton restaurant following Sweden's 9-2 Canada Cup semifinal victory over Team USA. The Buffalo goalie, now in AHL exile in Rochester, yielded four goals in less than 12 minutes before removing himself from the game.

"Barrasso cleaned his shoes on the Swedish trainer's pants," Gustafsson said. "Then I was carrying a beer and he tried to knock it away with his hand, but I saw him start it and he missed. I finally went over and talked to Rod (Langway) and David (Christian) and they got him out of there."

Pete Scamurra, a former Capitals defenseman and onetime Western New York tennis champion, is competing successfully in a third sport. He is a trainer of harness horses, currently handling 11 at Rosecroft.