LAKE PLACID, N.Y., SEPT. 9 -- The Washington Capitals held their first real practice of the 1990-91 season today, but much of the news involved paperwork and negotiations.
Holdout defenseman Kevin Hatcher said the Capitals should trade him if they don't want to pay him more than he is now making. General Manager David Poile dismissed that notion. He also announced the signing of three players and rejection by the NHL office of the Capitals' contract with Peter Bondra -- one of two Czechoslovakians signed last month.
Bondra, among the top scorers in the Czech Elite league last season, was not a sure bet to start the season in Washington anyhow. But unless his contract is cleared by the NHL, he will have to play in Baltimore since the NHL has agreements to honor valid contracts signed in other countries. Bondra and the Capitals argue that his 10-year deal with Kosice was signed in the days of the Communist government and is not valid.
Poile remained optimistic that Bondra can eventually play in the NHL, but in the meantime he can sign an AHL contract, Poile said, because the AHL does not have agreements with international federations.
The NHL approved the contract of Jiri Vykoukal, because he was no longer under contract with a Czech team.
Poile said he had reached an agreement with free agent defenseman Bill Houlder's agent, Jay Grossman. Houlder is expected at practice Monday.
This weekend, Poile knocked some off the large number of players going into their option years. Defenseman Bob Rouse, newly-acquired center Peter Zezel and right wing Tim Bergland each agreed to contracts for one year, plus an option. But there are 12 players, possibly 14, who will play out their options. The 12 include captain Rod Langway and regulars Steve Leach, Bob Joyce, Nick Kypreos and Neil Sheehy. The other seven played mostly in Baltimore.
The Capitals also exercised their right to sign Alan May to a contract for one year, plus an option. But May has filed for arbitration.
Goalie Don Beaupre remains unsigned and Poile is waiting for his agent, Ron Simon, to call. As for Hatcher, Poile and owner Abe Pollin have said they won't negotiate until Hatcher comes to camp.
"No one has talked to anyone," Hatcher said yesterday. "I want to play hockey and if they don't want to start paying me, then they should give me a chance to go somewhere else."
Poile responded: "We have no intention of trading Kevin Hatcher."