At 5 feet 10 and 175 pounds, center Mike Richard is the smallest non-goaltender in the Washington Capitals' training camp. He is sick of hearing that he isn't big enough to play hockey and, because of food poisoning, he was just plain sick during the first four days of drills.

Yesterday, Richard got his first opportunity to show what he can do and he netted a pair of goals in an intrasquad scrimmage. Then, awarded a penalty shot with 15 seconds left and the score tied, he missed.

"He {goaltender Michel Dufour} left me the whole net and I missed it," Richard said. "But I was happy with today after being sick. My legs felt weak this morning, but I got going pretty good."

Richard rolled up 107 points in the Ontario Hockey League last season, when he was a teammate of Yvon Corriveau with the Toronto Marlboros. The year before, Richard was a big reason why Corriveau scored 54 goals. Still, he never was drafted by an NHL team and he knows why.

"My draft year I was told I'd be picked in the seventh or eighth round, but I never went at all," Richard said. "I think size was the reason. I know I'm small and I won't grow any more. I have to live with it and do the best I can with what I've got. Some teams go for bigger guys, but there are a lot of smaller guys in the league. Look at Mats Naslund {5-7, 158}."

Jack Button, the Capitals' director of player personnel and recruitment, offered another example -- St. Louis center Doug Gilmour (5-11, 164), who helped Canada capture the Canada Cup.

"Sometimes there are small guys who can play," Button said. "You still have to have skills, no matter what your size is. Mike has some skills, he has excellent character and he wants to play. You can't help liking the way he plays."

Richard ("It's pronounced like the Rocket, but there's no family connection -- I wish it had rubbed off on me") has a very special reason for wanting to earn a professional contract.

"My father developed cancer five months ago and he died three weeks ago," Richard said. "My playing in the NHL was always a dream for both of us, since I was 4 years old."

Richard had a brief stay in Baltimore after the Marlboros' season ended in the spring and his present goal is to sign a Washington contract and play in Binghamton. If he is aiming too high, he is willing to start at Fort Wayne in the International League.

"Hopefully, it won't come to that, but I'll go there if I have to," Richard said. "I want to play hockey very badly."

Capitals Notes: Winger Jeff Greenlaw was another two-goal scorer in the scrimmage . . . Center Bengt Gustafsson and winger Peter Sundstrom arrived last night from Sweden, where they returned following the Swedes' ouster from the Canada Cup eight days ago . . . Winger Greg Adams missed the scrimmage with a groin pull . . . Winger Jim Thomson required stitches on his left eyelid after being hit by an errant stick . . . Team president Dick Patrick and General Manager David Poile are attending today's NHL Board of Governors meeting in Chicago, where the principal topic is elimination of multi-player brawls . . . Al Wiseman, the NHL's assistant security director, made his annual visit and spoke to the players after yesterday's practice.