PHILADELPHIA, JAN. 24 -- The Washington Capitals, who have become the halfway house for those disaffected in Toronto, today acquired two players in an effort to get nastier.

Capitals General Manager David Poile acquired right wing John Kordic and left wing Paul Fenton from the Maple Leafs for future considerations. With his telephone credit card still in hand, Poile then sent Fenton to the Calgary Flames for 24-year-old defenseman Ken Sabourin.

"We're the {second} least penalized team in the league and we're in fifth place," Poile said before the Capitals' game here against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"One factor, in my judgment, missing is that we have not played tough enough. I've said I think we have a more talented team, but sometimes you have to surround your better, more talented players with players who can protect them and let them do their thing."

Last week, the Capitals acquired two-time all-star defenseman Al Iafrate from Toronto for Bob Rouse and Peter Zezel. Iafrate had some personal problems and wanted to leave Toronto. Same with the 25-year-old Kordic. The situation -- which included chronic lateness and disagreements with teammates -- got so bad early this season that the Maple Leafs told him to go home and sit. He has been staying with friends in Detroit, where his agent lives. Because the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Kordic hasn't been playing, it might be a couple of weeks before he is in shape to play for the Capitals. Sabourin will be in Washington on Friday, though it is uncertain if he will play that night against Minnesota.

The Capitals certainly are aware of Kordic's problems and were given permission to talk with Kordic before agreeing to the trade. Jack Button, the director of personnel and recruitment, met with Kordic Sunday. Coach Terry Murray talked with him Monday night in Detroit and Poile followed on Tuesday. Poile also took the unusual step of holding a team meeting before tonight's game to inform the team of the trade and the reasons for it.

"He had a lot of problems, whether they be people problems, communication problems or off-ice problems," Poile said of Kordic, who had 252 penalty minutes in 55 games in 1989-90.

"He wore out his welcome in Toronto. John Kordic is well aware of that and if he fails with the Washington Capitals, he can probably say goodbye to his NHL career."

Poile added that if "we have any problem with him on or off the ice, we will just let him go."

Poile declined to say exactly what the future considerations are but indications are that they will be a fifth-round draft choice in 1991.

Sabourin, who will be 25 on April 28, is 6-3 and 205 pounds. Last season, he played just five games in Calgary, but in 76 games with the Flames' Salt Lake City farm team, Sabourin had 5 goals, 19 assists and 336 penalty minutes.