Ron Lapointe, who scouted for the Washington Capitals while coaching the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Junior League for the past three seasons, was named an assistant coach of the Capitals yesterday.

Lapointe, 35, becomes the team's third assistant, along with Terry Murray and Warren Strelow. He will man the phones behind the bench during games, relaying information from Terry Murray in the press box to Coach Bryan Murray and the players. He also will be given broad instructional duties with the club's younger players.

Lapointe, who had been a candidate to assist Dave King with the Canadian Olympic team, withdrew his name when he and Washington General Manager David Poile agreed to terms.

"It would have been a great experience with the Olympic team, but this is a chance to work with a class organization and it's the kind of thing all coaches in junior hockey are gearing themselves for," Lapointe said by telephone from Shawinigan. "It's definitely a big step, but what makes it easier for me is that I'll be working with guys I know -- Bryan, Terry and Jack (Button, personnel director). It's a family surrounding."

Lapointe was a defenseman at Sir George Williams College in Montreal in the early '70s, serving as team captain when Bernie Wolfe, later a Capitals favorite, was the school's goaltender.

After two years of minor-league hockey in Johnstown (Pa.) and Port Huron (Mich.), Lapointe turned to coaching. He guided three Quebec junior teams -- Sorel Black Hawks for two seasons, Montreal Junior Canadiens for one and Shawinigan for three.

This year Lapointe's Shawinigan club finished atop the Quebec League's regular-season standings, then advanced to the Memorial Cup final before losing the Canadian championship to the Prince Albert (Saskatchewan) Raiders.