General Manager David Poile spoke individually to each member of the Washington Capitals after yesterday's practice at Mount Vernon Ice Rink. For three players, the conversation was most unwelcome.

Left wing Yvon Corriveau, the Capitals' No. 1 draft choice in June, was returned to his junior team in Toronto. Left wing Andre Hidi was assigned to Binghamton of the American Hockey League. Defenseman Timo Blomqvist, asked to report to Binghamton, sought and received a one-day respite while he weighs his future.

Corriveau wound up like Kevin Hatcher a year ago -- close but no job -- and he referred to Hatcher when he said goodbye.

"I'm happy I was the last cut," Corriveau said. "It was the same thing with Kevin Hatcher last year and he came back and made it. I think I can, too. They gave me an opportunity and I know I had a good camp. I'm a little disappointed, but I know I'm just a young guy (18) and I'm looking long term.

"They want me to go back to Toronto and mature, get a lot of ice time and score some goals. They want me to handle the puck more, too. That's one of the biggest things."

If anything, Poile sounded more disappointed about the demotion than Corriveau.

"We wished, hoped and prayed that we could have our first-round draft choice play for us this year," Poile said. "We know our left side could be stronger. Unfortunately, Yvon Corriveau is a year away. He showed a lot of good things and this time next year I'd be very disappointed if I have to send him back to junior."

Hidi survived the Capitals' final cut a year ago, played six games and was sent to Binghamton, where a knee injury ended his season. His ice time in training camp was limited by bruised ribs, a broken nose and a bruised right hand, as he engaged in a number of fights.

"Last year I started here and wound up there. Maybe this year it will be the opposite," Hidi said. "I felt like I proved a few things in camp. But I was hurt for a while and it kind of interrupted my progress. I'm disappointed but I'm pretty optimistic. I'm not prepared to play there forever. They'll be watching guys here and there and I hope I'll be back before very long."

Poile said, "I can almost guarantee Andre Hidi that he'll play some games in Washington this season. I want to find out if he can play for us on a regular basis and be one of our 12 forwards in the playoffs.

"He hasn't played much hockey in the last year and a half because of various injuries and he was knocked out of the box here. We want him to go down for ice time and confidence."

Blomqvist had asked to be traded during the summer, but Poile was unable to work out a deal. On Monday, the other 20 teams declined to take the Finn for the $15,000 waiver price. He could forfeit the final year of his contract and go home.

If those three were unhappy, several others were celebrating. Winger Lou Franceschetti stayed with Washington for the first time in eight training camps. And left wing Greg Adams, unprotected in the waiver draft a year ago, now finds himself on the No. 1 line with Bob Carpenter and Mike Gartner. "What a difference a year makes," Adams said. "This sure is a funny game."