The Washington Capitals' outlook brightened yesterday, when All-Star defenseman Kevin Hatcher, who sat out the entire preseason in a contract dispute, ended his holdout and Don Beaupre, the starting goaltender for most of last season, reported after signing a new contract.
Hatcher, 24, had missed training camp in an effort to get hi three-year contract renegotiated. Owner Abe Pollin said he would not discuss contract terms until Hatcher reported to camp. Spokesman Lou Corletto said Hatcher and general manager David Poile would discuss a new contract within the next few days.
Hatcher was one of five Capitals -- and the only defenseman -- to play in all 80 games last season. He led the team's defensemen with 13 goals and 41 assists, finishing with a career-best 54 points. He was Washington's lone representative in the All-Star Game and was tied for second on the team in playoff assists with eight, despite missing the Prince of Wales Conference finals with a knee injury.
Beaupre, 29, who started most of the games during the Capitalsmarch through the 1989-90 National Hockey League playoffs, also held out of preseason camp before coming to terms Monday on a one-year deal. Terms were not disclosed.
"It's a good thing to happen for us," Poile said. "Last year, we thought we had our best goaltending tandem in Capitals history. Now, we'll have that intact."
Poile was referring to the combination of Beaupre and Mike Liut, both of whom helped the Capitals to the Wales Conference finals, where they lost in four straight games to the Boston Bruins. Beaupre had a 23-18-5 record in the regular season and a 3.22 goals-against average. In the playoffs, he was 4-3 with a 2.69 goals-against average.
Liut, 34, was acquired in March from the Hartford Whalers.
Beaupre's signing means the team won't have to start the season with an inexperienced goalie backing up Liut.
"We have a lot of good young goaltenders, but in terms of their development we feel it's best for them to play a lot of games wherever they are," Poile said. "The addition of Beaupre at goal for the Capitals for this season is the best scenario."
Beaupre, who reported to the team yesterday but did not practice, joined the league 10 years ago, when, at age 19, he led the Minnesota North Stars to a playoff berth and earned a trip to the NHL All-Star Game. He was traded to the Capitals on Nov. 1, 1988, and, after 30 games with the Baltimore Skipjacks, joined the parent team late in the 1988-89 season.
Beaupre will report to the Capitals, but he could be sent to Baltimore if he's not in shape.
"We don't know whether he's in playing condition or not," Poile said. "If he's not in playing shape, then we'll take a look at the options."
Poile said the addition of Beaupre gives the team the players it needs to be competitive this season, which will begin Friday at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"We're optimistic about the way we finished last year and our performance in the playoffs," Poile said, "but there's parity in the league, and I don't want to make too many predictions for the season."