Capitals re-sign Hunter and Eagles


The Washington Capitals introduced nine rookies to the NHL last season, but yesterday they took care of two of their players who are much closer to the end of their careers than to the beginning.

The Capitals re-signed team captain Dale Hunter and forward Mike Eagles to two-year contracts. Hunter turns 35 in July and has been with Washington since 1987. Eagles, 32, is entering his 12th NHL season and second with the Caps. Goaltender Olie Kolzig, one of the nine rookies, was signed to a one-year contract.

"There was no question we wanted Dale to finish out his career in Washington," Capitals general manager David Poile said. "We think two years is the appropriate amount of time at his age. He has always been a big contributor for us."

Hunter is Washington's all-time playoff scoring leader, is second all-time in NHL career penalty minutes and has 900 points in his 15-year career. Eagles was acquired from Winnipeg on April 7 for his aggressiveness and ability to play all three forward positions.

Kolzig, 25, spent all of last season in the NHL and was the Capitals' starting goalie until Rookie of the Year candidate Jim Carey was recalled from Portland of the American Hockey League. Kolzig was 2-8-2 with a 2.49 goals-against average, but was not used much after Carey's arrival.

"Olie's still looking for his breakthrough year," Poile said. "With a full 84-game season next year, there's going to be plenty of playing time for both goalies."

Things are just getting started for Poile.

Last week he re-signed defenseman Calle Johansson. He has started negotiations with Peter Bondra, last season's NHL goal-scoring champ. The Capitals still are trying to sign 1993 first-round draft choice Brendan Witt before July 8, when Witt would become eligible to re-enter this year's draft. The Caps pick 17th in the first round of the July draft.

Poile also is working on contracts for the six other Washington free agents: center Michal Pivonka, enforcer Craig Berube, defenseman Ken Klee, forward Kevin Kaminski and minor-leaguers Jeff Nelson and Byron Dafoe.

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