- The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2000

Peter Bondra, the disgruntled Washington forward who requested a trade last summer, has in effect killed a deal between the Capitals and Montreal Canadiens that had been in the works just before training camp started Sept. 8.
In exchange, the Caps would have acquired Dainius Zubrus, a native of Russia who, like Bondra, is a right wing who shoots from the left side. Because of the huge difference in salaries Bondra is scheduled to make $3,775,000 this season, Zubrus $1 million it is thought the Caps had agreed to pay as much as half of Bondra's salary.
Washington general manager George McPhee adamantly refused to discuss any deal with the Canadiens, even to go as far as admit it had been proposed.
"I don't know anything about that. I don't have any comment," Bondra said last night.
Bondra does not have veto power over a trade but he can all but kill one by simply stating he would refuse to report. In that case, it would leave the Caps with Zubrus, a 22-year-old, while Montreal would have nothing but legal fees attempting to force Bondra to report.
Why Bondra rejected the trade is not known because the player has refused to talk to the media recently. But some possible reasons include:
Taxes. The very heavy tax burden imposed by the city of Montreal and province of Quebec, plus federal taxes, can chew up in some cases as much as 60 percent of an individual's pay check. The tax situation was the primary reason Rod Langway demanded a trade from the Canadiens in 1982 and became a Cap.
Unstable franchise. While nobody seriously believes the Canadiens will leave Montreal, the franchise was put on the market late last season by its current owner, the Molson Brewery, but there have been no takers. The brewery has maintained it is losing huge chunks of money and asked for a tax break on the Molson Centre, which was not granted.
Media pressure. Hockey is religion in Canada but reporting on the Canadiens in the French-speaking portion of the country has been raised a few notches above that. It makes the intensity of local Redskin coverage seem amateur. Each game is minutely dissected with heroes praised and those who make a mistake blamed in huge black headlines. No part of a player's life is considered private.
Weather. One industry source suggested perhaps Bondra has become accustomed to the mild Washington winters and did not relish the colder Quebec climate.
League sources say there have been other proposed deals for the right wing, specifically with two Western teams, but they have fallen through for one reason or another, none having to do with a Bondra veto. McPhee would only say that he has had discussions with various teams.
Bondra, 31, can be a marketing dream he will sign autographs for hours and is especially patient with children but his play has slipped during the past few years. He totaled just 52 goals during the past two seasons where as recently as 1997-98 he had that many in one campaign. He also had 52 goals in 1995-96 but his best season may have been the lockout-shortened 1995 partial season when he led the league with 34 in 47 games; projected over a full 84-game campaign, he would have scored 61.
Born in the Ukraine of Slovakian parents, he was discovered by the late Jack Button who was following up on a rumor that an excellent prospect was playing in the backwoods of Slovakia. Button, the Caps' chief scout, made the trip and the team drafted Bondra in 1990. He has rewarded Button's trip with 337 goals and 583 points in 672 games.
He has been Washington's leading goal-scorer six times, has led or shared the points lead four times. He is plus-88 defensively, has scored 77 power play goals and 25 shorthanded. He owns team records for game-winning goals in a season, 13 in 1997-98 (which also led the league), and three-goal hat tricks with 14. He appeared in five All-Star games.

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