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When the 1982-83 NHL season ended, Dave Christian didn't...

By DON CRONIN, UPI Sports Writer

LANDOVER, Md. -- When the 1982-83 NHL season ended, Dave Christian didn't know where he would be in 1983-84, but he was positive it wouldn't be Winnipeg.

Christian jumped for glee last month when he was traded to the Washington Capitals and leaped again Thursday when he signed a new contract.

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'At the end of the season, we got rid of our apartment, packed up everything and headed for Minnesota,' said Christian, a member of the gold medal 1980 U.S. Olympic team. 'Iwanted to play in the United Stated and I'm tickled to death to be in Washington.'

Terms of his contract were not announced.

Like many U.S. players, Christian was whacked in the pocketbook by Canadian tax laws. He also didn't see a post-hockey future for himself in Winnipeg.

'I was made to feel very comfortable by the fans in Winnipeg and by my teammates,' said Christian. 'I have no bad feelings. It's just the situation I was in.

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'Basically, the Canadian tax laws take half of what you make and give nothing back. Then, there's the 20 percent drop in the exchange rate when you come back to this country. Plus, Americans don't have a future after hockey in Canada and that's an important consideration.'

Christian, a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that won the gold medal at Lake Placid, N.Y., has had little chance to take advantage of the publicity from that success.

Drafted by the Jets in 1979, he joined the NHL club right after the Olympics for 15 games and scored his first NHL goal just seven seconds after stepping on the ice for the first time as a professional.

There was not a major contract hassle, but Christian made it plain that it would take a huge pay hike to keep him in Winnipeg to make up for the tax losses. He played out his option last season and would have become a free agent Friday had it not been for the trade.

'There was no way I would have re-signed with the Jets without going through free agency,' he said. 'I'm glad it didn't get that far, though.

'I got an idea of what other clubs would be willing to pay, but the trade came along and working out a contract with the Capitals wasn't difficult. I'm ready to go to camp. I just wish the season started tomorrow.'

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To get Christian, the Capitals gave up their No. 1 draft pick this year, something General Manager David Poile doesn't plan as a habit.

'We want to use draft picks to build for the future,' said Poile. 'But Dave was available and we were definitely interested.

'It takes 20 different types of players to make a good hockey club and Dave is a little different from anyone we have here. He is versatile in that he is a good man to have on the ice whether we are ahead or behind, he can play well on the power play, kill penalties, practically everything but play in goal.

'Also, Dave was captain at Winnipeg, so he brings along that quality. He is a player who puts winning ahead of individual statistics, exactly the kind of thinking we want on the Capitals,' he said.

One of Christian's early appearances for the Capitals will be against the U.S. Olympic team being selected this summer to participate in the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. The Capitals will host the Olympians on Sept. 30 at Capital Centre.

Christian's father, Bill, and uncle, Roger, were members of the gold medal-winning 1960 U.S. Olympic team and another uncle, Gordon, was a member of the 1956 U.S. team.

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In three full seasons plus 15 games with the Jets, Christian scored 79 goals and had 130 assists. Last season, he had 18 goals and 26 assists, despite missing 25 games with a shoulder injury. His best year was 1981-82 with 76 points on 25 goals and 51 assists.

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