- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 12, 2002

The Philadelphia Flyers learned some time ago not to send just their normal heavyweight enforcer, Todd Fedoruk, out against Washington's Stephen Peat. The Caps' designated hitter has chewed him up nearly a half dozen times over the last season.

So the Flyers send out their top gun, Donald Brashear, and so far Peat is 0-2 against the super heavyweight. Not only that, but Brashear apparently has put Peat down for the count at least for a month or so.

Brashear and Peat fought six minutes into Saturday's 4-1 Washington win and the Flyers enforcer won. Peat did not appear to be seriously hurt, playing a little more than usual during the rest of the game.

But the Caps said yesterday Peat is lost for a month-to-six weeks with unspecified injuries to a hand. Surgery was an option under consideration for most of yesterday but was ruled out late in the afternoon, a team spokesman said.

Nobody is saying what the injury is or even if it was a new one. Sources said the likable policeman had been having trouble with one of his hands and the latest bout with Brashear may have aggravated an injury to the point Peat could no longer play.

It leaves the Caps without a player whose duties included watching after and protecting if necessary Washington's skill people. Peat not only did it with gusto and great enthusiasm, he actually seemed to like his job.

"He may have hit [Brashear] on the button one too many times, I don't know," said coach Bruce Cassidy, who acknowledged the player could be out awhile.

Peat was learning to play right wing after the Caps converted him from defense so he could further pursue his primary skill. Most enforcers are wings, a position that can be sacrificed more easily during a game than defense, where the numbers are smaller making each individual more valuable.

Cassidy said the team will attempt to work newcomer Alex Henry (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) into that role but that might be difficult. Willingness to do the job is not the problem; Henry is a defenseman and has only played two games at forward in his life, both last weekend in Portland, Maine.

"It was a lot different" than what he has played in the past, Henry said. "I think I can [adapt] but it will take a little time. I've got pretty much everything to learn. [But] I can bring some toughness, I can play physical."

If he can't, or can't do it effectively, the Caps will have to go shopping.

"[Peat] served a primary purpose which was to bring us energy but also to look after guys, so we're probably looking for a guy who can do that if we were going to go [the trade] route. It we decide that element is something we need then we'll have to find somebody to specifically replace Peat," Cassidy said.

Adding a new element to the mix after it seems to be coming together doesn't appear to be something Cassidy wants to do right now.

"I'm fine with our group, we're coming together as a team," he said. "I always believe in rewarding a guy. If a guy's doing a great job on the fourth line and a third liner gets hurt, why not move the fourth liner up? Throw him a bone every once in awhile. [Glen] Metropolit is doing a fine job here, had a good camp, beat guys out of a job and he's played OK in the games he's played for us. So I'd just as soon throw him into the lineup."

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