Capitals distracted for opener Miller walks out in contract dispute

October 04, 1991|By Bill Free

So much for contentment in the land of the Washington Capitals.

Less than 24 hours after the Washington brass and many of the players talked about a lack of distractions entering tonight's season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Capital Centre, left wing Kelly Miller became a distraction yesterday morning.

Miller told Washington vice president and general manager David Poile he would not play tonight because he was unhappy with his contract.

Poile, who seemed slightly baffled, said: "Kelly Miller and I had a meeting this morning [yesterday] at which time Kelly informed me that, because of his contractual expectations, that in his heart he would not be able to put on a Capitals jersey Friday night. Kelly Miller has one year remaining on his contract and had agreed to play out his option. Last year, he made $260,000, and the Capitals offered him a four-year contract earning $400,000 per year plus bonuses."

Shortly after Miller balked at playing for Washington, Poile obtained left wing Todd Krygier from the Hartford Whalers for the Capitals' fourth-round choice in the 1993 entry draft.

Krygier, 25, scored 13 goals and had 17 assists in 72 games last season with the Whalers.

Before Miller had a late change of heart, the only distraction in training camp this season came when goaltender Don Beaupre walked out Sept. 18 as a result of a contract dispute and returned home to Minneapolis. Beaupre is in his option year and has left training camp two straight years.

Right wing Dino Ciccarelli said Wednesday about the peacefulness: "Other than my 15-month old daughter, Ashley, falling on the back patio and breaking her leg, there have been no problems this season."

It is the prospect of a healthy Ciccarelli scoring more goals this season that has raised expectations around the Capitals, who ranked 14th in the NHL in goals last season.

Ciccarelli missed 21 games with a broken thumb and five games with a pulled groin muscle last season and wound up with just 21 goals. That ended his five-season run of 40 goals or more.

"I'm not looking to miss 26 games this season," said Ciccarelli. "If you look at us on paper, we're not that stacked offensively, but all our players know what to do to improve. As long as myself and the other guys pick it up a notch, we should be OK."

Poile said he is optimistic because "we have a lot of players who have yet to have their best years offensively. If these guys go up a notch, we'll be OK. Defensively, we're deeper than we've ever been."

Capitals coach Terry Murray has tried to step up the scoring by moving talented second-year player Dimitri Khristich from a wing to center this season. Murray is using Khristich on a line with Ciccarelli and newcomer Randy Burridge, a left wing.

"Khristich has the physical ability to beat people one-on-one," said Murray. "He opens up things for his line-mates. I like what I've seen of Khristich, and it seems to be a good idea to have him handling the puck more. We'll just play it [Khristich's move] as we see it."

In regard to Beaupre, Poile said he talked to the goaltender Tuesday for the first time since Beaupre left camp. Last season, Beaupre had a 2.64 goals-against average, second in the NHL, and a league-high five shutouts.

"We both said a few things that needed to be said directly to each other," said Poile. "He called me, so I guess that's a good sign. But I haven't heard anything from him since, so I guess it wasn't that good of a conversation. Don had prepared well for the season, and I believe he wants to be our No. 1 goaltender. But when he walked out of camp, it resulted in a lose-lose situation."

Poile said he has made inquiries into what other goaltenders might be available in case the Capitals need help before Beaupre returns. Poile said that he is prepared to go with Mike Liut, 35, and Jim Hrivnak as the team's two goaltenders.

Capitals schedule

) (All times Eastern, p.m.)


4 Philadelphia,.. .. ..7:35

5 Buffalo,.. .. .. .. 7:35

9 at Toronto,.. .. .. 7:35

11 Rangers,.. .. .. .. 7:35

12 Chicago,.. .. .. .. 7:35

14 at Rangers,.. .. .. 7:35

18 New Jersey,.. .. .. 7:35

19 at N.J.,.. .. .. .. 7:35

23 at Edmonton,.. .. ..9:35

24 at Vanc'ver,.. .. 10:35

27 at Winnipeg,.. .. . 8:05

29 at Pittsburgh,.. .. 7:35


1 Toronto,.. .. .. .. 7:35

2 at Islanders,.. .. . 7:35

8 Detroit,.. .. .. .. 7:35

10 at Quebec,.. .. .. 2:05

11 at Montreal,.. .. . 7:35

13 at Rangers,.. .. .. 7:35

15 Pittsburgh,.. .. .. 7:35

20 at N.J.,.. .. .. .. 7:35

22 Boston,.. .. .. .. 7:35

23 at Hartford,.. .. . 7:35

25 at Detroit,.. .. .. 7:35

27 Montreal,.. .. .. . 7:35

29 Islanders,.. .. .. 7:35

30 at Islanders,.. .. 7:35


5 at Phila.,.. .. .. . 7:35

7 at Minn.,.. .. .. .. 8:05

8 at Winnipeg,.. .. .. 8:05

10 Calgary,.. .. .. .. 7:35

13 Rangers,.. .. .. .. 7:35

14 at Pittsburgh,.. .. 7:35

17 Quebec,.. .. .. .. 7:35

18 at Buffalo,.. .. .. 7:35

20 Toronto,.. .. .. .. 7:35

22 at Phila.,.. .. .. 7:05

26 Rangers,.. .. .. .. 7:35

28 Pittsburgh,.. .. .. 7:35

29 at N.J.,.. .. .. .. 7:35


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