Witt reverts to juniors -- and Caps hear from agent


WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Washington Capitals finally heard from rookie Brendan Witt's agent, Mark Hall, but not until an hour after the deadline had passed for signing the 18-year-old defenseman.

"He called around 1 a.m. [yesterday]," said Washington general manager David Poile, "and then, all he said was, 'Why did you need to talk to me? Why didn't you simply send another fax?' "

At midnight, the window for signing Witt closed. He has to return to Seattle, where he will spend another season playing junior hockey in the Western Hockey League.

"It is very difficult to negotiate with yourself," said Jack Button, the Capitals director of player personnel. "There was never a counter proposal. We didn't have anything to work with. . . . I'm disappointed we didn't get it done."

And even today, Poile and Button say they don't know why they didn't get it done.

Russ Williams, the president of Witt's Seattle junior team, called Button yesterday afternoon and said he knew Witt wanted to play for the Capitals.

"It wasn't even an economic issue," Button said, because the Capitals never knew what Witt wanted.

NOTES: G Rick Tabaracci is on this trip and skated for about 15 minutes yesterday, but rookie Olie Kolzig will be Don Beaupre's backup tonight. . . . Coach Terry Murray said he would not use Randy Burridge (groin injury) in tonight's game because he has not been able to work out for four days.

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