Washington Capitals captain Rod Langway is suffering from a ruptured disk in his back and will enter George Washington University Hospital today for an indefinite period of treatment.

Langway obviously will not play for some time. Asked whether the injury might end the defenseman's career, General Manager David Poile replied, "As a GM, I certainly hope not. {Team physician} Dr. {Stephen} Haas is optimistic, because this is the first back injury of Rod's career."

Poile did, however, compare Langway's situation to that of Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders, who is sitting out this season and has virtually conceded his career's end because of a disk problem.

"Just as the New York Islanders have had to look to other players, the same goes for the Capitals," Poile said. "This certainly puts more pressure on our defensive corps, particularly Scott Stevens, Larry Murphy and Kevin Hatcher."

Langway was injured Wednesday in the first period of the Capitals' game against Boston. He attempted to skate Sunday and Monday, but each time developed stiffness that forced him off the ice.

The ruptured disk was discovered following extensive tests on Langway's back.

Poile said, "The doctors feel that with bed rest and medication, the situation probably could, and hopefully will be, resolved. The length of Rod's stay in the hospital and his absence from the team will be determined by how well he responds to treatment."

Poile said there would be no additions to the Capitals' present seven-man defensive unit. Rookie Bill Houlder was called up from Fort Wayne of the International League Sunday because of Langway's absence and made his NHL debut last night against Edmonton.

Langway came to the Capitals in September 1982 following four seasons in Montreal. He immediately was named team captain and won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman in 1983 and 1984.

In six seasons with the Capitals, Langway, 30, missed only 12 games prior to the current injury.