The Washington Times - September 17, 2011, 12:27PM

Tom Poti is the forgotten man on the Capitals’ blue line, and he’ll likely remain that way for a while. A lingering groin injury knocked him out of action in January, and he hasn’t played since.

Poti wasn’t on the ice Saturday morning as the Caps opened training camp – the result of him failing a physical Friday, general manager George McPhee said.

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“He’s certainly frustrated, and we’re disappointed because he’s a good player,” McPhee said. “He’s played very good hockey in Washington and made our team better. We just told him as we did with Brian Pothier a couple years ago: If you get to the point where you can return, we’d love to have you.”

Bringing Pothier’s name into the discussion just adds to McPhee’s pessimism. The Caps’ general manager mentioned last May that he felt Poti’s career was in danger – and that hasn’t changed.

“I’m right where I was last year. I was concerned about whether he’d be able to play again,” McPhee said. “That’s why we went out and signed [Roman] Hamrlik; we didn’t want to be short. Unfortunately he’s no further along at this point.”

McPhee said Poti, who’s in town but was not made available to reporters, will try a different rehabilitation program to get back onto the ice. But a new approach does not include surgery.

“He’s seen all kinds of experts over the last year or so, and none of them recommend surgery,” McPhee said.

McPhee confirmed that Poti is set to begin the season on long-term injured reserve. With that move, the team would be under the salary cap.

McPhee also noted that John Erskine had offseason shoulder surgery with a five-to-six-month recovery time. But Erskine is not an LTIR candidate, according to the gm.