Next summer is likely to be busier than most for the National Hockey League, as the owners and players' union try to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement.

The union has new leadership, with Bob Goodenow taking over for Alan Eagleson. The local chapter also has had changes.

Kelly Miller was the Washington Capitals' player representative to the union for a couple of seasons. But last summer Miller began work toward an MBA at Michigan State, where he earned his bachelor's degree.

"I thought last summer I could do both, but I found out otherwise," said Miller, who took himself out of the balloting. "I didn't think it would be fair to the team."

Instead, the Capitals will work with a committee of Mike Lalor, Kevin Hatcher, Don Beaupre and John Druce, with Miller assisting as much as school permits. The other four were nominated for the job and the voting was spread among them, Miller said.

"We want to have somebody at every meeting and the more who are informed about it, the better," Miller said. "It will help next summer, which will be a busy summer. I think you'll see more teams do it. A lot are finding one rep is not enough. There is too much information to handle and too many guys to get it to."

Zezel Getting Closer

Peter Zezel, who has been out since spraining his left ankle Oct. 30, has been practicing this past week. Coach Terry Murray said Friday he thought Zezel would go on a three-game road trip that begins Monday when the team travels to New York, and then to Chicago and St. Louis. Murray wasn't sure when Zezel would play, and Zezel wasn't sure either.

"I'm skating and getting back in shape," said Zezel, who indicated the ankle still is weak. "When you miss two months in this league, that's a lot."