Woolley out, veteran Curran in for defense-minded Capitals

Capitals defenseman Jason Woolley had his game plan in mind shortly after being told he was being sent to the Portland Pirates, Washington's American Hockey League affiliate, for an indefinite stay.

"I will be back," he said. "I'm going there. I'm going to concentrate on playing defense. That's what they want to see and that's what I'm going to show them."


Woolley, who had one goal and one assist in five games this season, will join Portland today and 29-year-old defenseman Brian Curran, who played with the Pirates last night, is to join the Caps today.

Curran, 6 feet 5, 220 pounds, who was Boston's second choice in the 1982 entry draft, has played 355 games in the NHL for the Bruins, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres. He played last season in Cape Breton, producing two goals, 24 assists and 223 penalty minutes in 61 games. He signed with Portland in July.


"He's a well-traveled veteran," said Capitals general manager David Poile. "What he can provide is some stability. He's not flashy, but if he can be a stay-at-home defenseman, a safe player for us, who can be physical at times, then he's our man."

Woolley, 25, shuttled between the Capitals and the Baltimore Skipjacks last season, playing 29 games for the Skipjacks, 26 for the Capitals.

"We simply made a decision that what Jason was doing for us wasn't good enough," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "He's not prepared to play at both ends of the rink. In Portland, he needs to work on the defensive side of the game.

"My evaluation of his work there won't be points on the stats sheets. It will be: Is he on the ice in the last minute and a half, two minutes of a 1-1 game or the last minute of a period? Is he the defensive defenseman in that situation? Is he effective on penalty killing, the one-on-one stuff, the body positioning, the play along the boards?

"When he gets to that level, then he'll be able to play in the NHL, because he has a lot of natural ability to play the game the other way."

NOTES: D Calle Johansson, nursing a bruised ankle, did not skate again yesterday but said he plans to today. "You can't take a week like this and just relax," he said. "You've got to stay focused and concentrated and I have to get back on the ice [today] to be ready for the game with L.A.". . . . Al Iafrate will be the guest on Talk2 on ESPN2 Oct. 28, while the Capitals are on their western road trip. The day after Iafrate talks, the Capitals will get their first look at the expansion Anaheim Mighty Ducks. . . . Murray said he is not worried about veteran C Dave Poulin, who played on the fourth line last weekend. "He hasn't played his best hockey, so he was put down on the fourth line," said the coach. "By the end of both games last weekend, he was playing in different situations [power play, penalty killing] and it will all shake out as we continue to get ourselves going."