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  Ranford Expects to Be Elsewhere Next Season

By Rachel Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 11, 1998; Page E5

Capitals Notebook

DETROIT, June 10 — Washington goaltender Bill Ranford, the two-time Stanley Cup winner relegated to a backup role this season, said this morning that he doesn't think he'll be playing for the Capitals in October.

"I can't see me being back," he said. Starting goaltender Olaf Kolzig "has proven himself that he can play, and I just don't think they're going to want to be put in a situation — it's tough to be put in a situation where you have two guys who want to play.

"Whatever happens, happens. I just want to play, no matter whether it's here or somewhere else."

Ranford said he has not spoken to General Manager George McPhee about his future, but "the day the season ends, the next day, I'll go in and talk to George." McPhee said today that he does not want to comment on player contracts until the Stanley Cup finals are over, although he has praised Ranford for handling his status professionally.

Ranford has two years left on a contract that will pay him about $3.1 million a season, and his situation is further complicated by the June 26 expansion draft. The Capitals will likely be able to protect only one goalie, Kolzig, so the new Nashville franchise could take Ranford without giving Washington any compensation.

"This is an unstable year for goaltending, there's no doubt," Ranford said. "There are a handful of guys who are unrestricted, and it's an open market. It might be the first time ever that you see a handful of first-class, superstar goalies that are up for grabs. I think you're going to see a lot of jersey changes."

Commissioner Talks

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman had his annual breakfast with the media this morning, discussing everything from the league's falling television ratings to a playoff system that has produced final series sweeps for the last three years. He also discussed possible rules changes, including a two-referee system, and a focus on preventing head injuries.

"I don't think the game is on hard times," he said. "It just needs fine adjustments. TV ratings are down, but not as terrible as some think. We're working on finding our niche."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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