After a six-year absence, Bobby Carpenter has returned to the Washington Capitals, the team with whom he began his NHL career.
The Capitals announced yesterday that they signed the unrestricted free agent for one year with an option year at $500,000 per year.
Carpenter left the Capitals in midseason in 1987 after his relationship with then-coach Bryan Murray disintegrated. General manager David Poile told Carpenter not to bother coming to practice while he worked on trading him. Carpenter was traded Jan. 1, 1987, to the New York Rangers for Kelly Miller, Mike Ridley and Bob Crawford.
But that was six years ago, and although Miller and Ridley remain, Murray has been replaced by his brother, Terry.
"A lot changes in six years," said Carpenter, who had 25 goals and 23 assists last season as a left wing for the Boston Bruins. "It was just a mistake, what happened. . . . It's a lot different when you play six years -- it's six more years in different places -- you realize different things. It was just a misunderstanding that got blown way out of proportion. I don't think it was as serious as everyone made it out to be.
"I had some talks with Bryan, and we patched things up pretty good. We don't have any problems at all anymore. I hope they can get over it; I sure have. It was a bad situation, a misunderstanding, and it's over with."
Carpenter, who will turn 29 in 13 days, is joining a team that had the second-best record in the NHL last season. The Capitals decided not to resign high-scoring right wing Dino Ciccarelli but have given a four-year, $4.6 million offer sheet to Edmonton Oilers defenseman Dave Manson. The Oilers have until 11:04 a.m. Friday to match the offer.
"Bobby is a veteran player who has played extremely well as a top forward in the National Hockey League," Terry Murray said. "He is a player that I hope can get us closer [to winning the Stanley Cup], and being a contending team we are always trying to fine-tune. When you can get a player such as Bobby with his offensive abilities and the talents that he has, the fine-tuning gets finer. He's going to help us be a much better hockey club."
Although Carpenter said that his career playing for New York, the Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins and Washington has not (( been disappointing, it would be if he never won the Stanley Cup.
"It's getting late -- I've been playing a lot of years -- and I want to win the Stanley Cup," he said. "This team has a great chance of winning the Stanley Cup. If you pick four teams to win, I'm sure they are going to be at the top of everyone's list."
Carpenter said that his knee, which he shattered Dec. 8, 1990has healed and he should be at full strength when the season starts.
"I expect him to play in all 80 games, nine exhibitions anhopefully four complete playoff series," said Murray, adding that Carpenter was checked out by Stephen Haas, the team doctor. "Bobby's knee is not a concern of mine at all."
After graduating from St. John's Prep in Danvers, Mass., Carpenter was the Capitals' first pick in the 1981 entry draft. He scored 32 goals in his rookie season as an 18-year-old, and he became the first American-born player to score 50 goals, with 53 in the 1984-85 season with the Capitals. He is seventh on the Capitals' all-time scoring list with 177-190367 totals in 422 games and is fifth in goals (177) and fifth in power-play goals (52).