LANDOVER -- Defenseman Al Iafrate, who had asked the Toronto Maple Leafs to trade him, received his wish yesterday when he was dealt to the Washington Capitals for center Peter Zezel and defenseman Bob Rouse.
Iafrate had 21 goals and 42 assists last year, and led Toronto's defensemen in scoring in each of the past three years.
This season he has three goals and 15 assists in 42 games.
Off-the-ice problems were blamed for the decline and led him to ask general manager Floyd Smith to try and make a deal.
"I respect him [Smith] for doing that," Iafrate said in Toronto after the trade was announced. "I wasn't very happy and I'm glad to be getting out."
Smith told a news conference he felt obliged to trade Iafrate.
"It was no secret that Al wasn't having the year everybody expected of him," said Smith. "I just felt at this time that it was better for the hockey club, the players in the room and for Al if the trade was made."
Among Iafrate's problems were the breakup of his marriage and a paternity suit filed in St. Louis. Teammate Gary Leeman now is dating Iafrate's ex-wife.
"The whisper campaign bothered me," Iafrate said. "I know the truth about what happened with my knee, with my marriage, and with my paternity suit."
The Capitals felt they made a good acquisition.
"He is a proven all-star," Washington general manager David Poile said. "I think the many talents of Al Iafrate are quite obvious. He is able to create plays, skates extremely well and possesses one of the best shots in all of hockey."