Capitals remain busy, sign Poulin for 2 years Center becomes fourth acquisition

August 04, 1993|By Brian Fishman | Brian Fishman,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals, who have become one of the NHL's most active participants in the off-season free-agent pool, yesterday signed Boston Bruins center Dave Poulin to a two-year contract.

Poulin, 34, is one of the hardest working and most respected players in the league. The Capitals are hoping that his winning past, which includes six appearances in the Stanley Cup semifinals and three trips to the finals in his 11-year career, can help the club take the next step into the championship round.

"When I talk to my peers in the National Hockey League regarding players we would like to have on our teams, and we talk about character and we talk about leadership, Dave Poulin is always mentioned," said Washington general manager David Poile at a news conference at USAir Arena.

Poulin is the fourth player acquired by the Capitals since the end of the season, joining former Philadelphia Flyers teammates Keith Acton and Craig Berube as well as defenseman Enrico Ciccone.

"[Poulin's] got great presence in the dressing room," Caps coach Terry Murray said. "I think we lacked that last year. We had players like Rod Langway and Dave Tippett and Mike Liut the previous year and all of a sudden they're gone. When you take that away from the dressing room sometimes some people search and try to step up and do something off the ice. I think we needed help in that area, and this is going to be a great addition just in that area alone."

Poulin has excelled on the ice as well, but not recently. He had career highs of 31 goals and 76 points in 1983-84, his first full season in the NHL, with the Flyers. In 1986-87, he won the Selke Trophy as the league's top defensive forward. Last season, Poulin had 16 goals and 33 assists in 84 games for Boston.

The 1992-93 season was a major comeback for Poulin, who played in just 18 games in 1991-92 because of abdominal and groin injuries. The 49 points were the most he had scored in five years, and Poulin credited that to his increased offensive responsibilities.

"I think often a role has to do with everything," he said. "If you're cast into a defensive role you start to accept that too much. If all you're asked to do is play defense, and the goals aren't coming, you tend to say to yourself, 'Well, I'm still doing my job.' I think this past year, there was a little more expectation on my part."

Poulin said that he and his wife made a list of criteria in determining what team he would sign with. He wanted to be part of a team with a serious chance of winning the Stanley Cup, a location that would be good for his family -- which includes three young daughters -- and a respected organization.

"Things just appeared better and better for me as the situation defined itself," Poulin said. "Hockey-wise it should be a very good fit."

And to those skeptics who feel his age will hinder his potential impact with the Capitals? "I could factor down my age very quickly," Poulin said. "I went to college [at Notre Dame] and played a very nice 30 games a year until I was 23 years old. My first pro season was 24 and I tell all these 18-year-olds who have been playing 100 games a year since they were 14 that I'm actually 28."

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