John Tucker, who had flashes of scoring bliss and spells of inactivity in his first half-season as a Washington Capital, may not be back with the team next season.
Tucker, who would be entering the option year of his contract, has been offered a termination contract by Capitals General Manager David Poile, which means he has until the end of June to find a better deal with another team.
"The way the season ended for the team was great, but personally it wasn't," Tucker said yesterday.
If he decides to sign the termination contract and return to the Capitals, he would be free to negotiate with any team after the 1990-91 season and any team signing him would not be required to compensate the Capitals.
"A number of other teams have expressed interest . . . there are two teams with a distinct interest," said Larry Kelly, Tucker's agent. "John didn't score for them like he is capable, but he is one of those guys who you have to give ice time."
Tucker, who will be 26 in September, was acquired from Buffalo Jan. 4 in exchange for a draft choice. A center most of his career, he played mostly right wing with the Capitals. As part of Dale Hunter's line with left wing Geoff Courtnall, he flourished in the first 10 games after Terry Murray became coach, scoring six goals and nine assists.
But then he hurt his ribs, line combinations changed and Tucker finished the regular season with nine goals and 19 assists.
Murray put the line back together in the playoffs, but it didn't produce enough to suit him. Before Game 2 of the Patrick Division finals against the New York Rangers, the coach inserted John Druce, who went on to be a playoff hero with 14 goals. Tucker scored the Capitals' second goal in Game 1 of the Boston series, but he was scratched from the lineup in Games 2 and 4.