Gene Ubriaco, former head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Baltimore Skipjacks, could be the next head coach of the Italian Olympic hockey team.
Ubriaco recently returned from a trip to Italy as the guest of the Italian Hockey Federation. "They want me to take the job, and I'm very seriously considering doing it," said Ubriaco, who lives in Baltimore and does commentary on the Skipjacks radio broadcasts. "I'm going to go back over there in January, and I'll probably decide between now and then. It would be a great way to keep my hand in.
"They play very good hockey in their professional league, which is made up of 10 club teams. Most of the players live in the towns they play for and work at regular jobs and play hockey as a sideline. Each team has a couple of imports like Jari Kurri and Murray Eaves, who get big money and just play hockey. Each team has four or five North Americans on its roster.
"I was amazed at how many North Americans -- more than 50 -- are playing in the Italian league, guys like Roberto Romano and Mark Johnson. But I saw enough good Italian talent to feel that they have the nucleus for an excellent Olympic team."
Ubriaco said that Italy is rated a B Division team in Europe, but hopes to move up to A Division competition by the 1992 Olympics.
The Washington Capitals are like the stock market -- they're up, they're down and they're up again. They won five in a row, lost five in a row, won three in a row and have now lost one.
Injuries are a large part of the inconsistency.
"There is no doubt that losing players of the ability of Dino Ciccarelli [broken thumb] and Peter Zezel [severely sprained ankle] has hurt us," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "But they really are just two pieces of the overall offensive picture. We have to get scoring from other players when guys like Dino and Zezel are out."
John Druce, the hero of last spring's Stanley Cup playoffs, has been the key scorer for the Capitals this season, and right behind is defenseman Kevin Hatcher.
The Capitals could be in more trouble because of injuries. Rookie goalie Jim Hrivnak, who had won three straight, suffered a sprained knee in Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss at Pittsburgh and could be out of action for a while. Hrivnak will be re-examined Monday.
Also, left wing Nick Kypreos has a bruised elbow. The elbow was drained yesterday, and Kypreos' status is day-to-day.
Don Beaupre, the goalie who has been out for three weeks with a pulled groin muscle, said after skating with the Skipjacks Sunday, he would rejoin the Capitals in time for tomorrow's game against the New York Rangers. The Capitals recalled him yesterday. Zezel is about three weeks away from returning and Ciccarelli a month away, Murray said.
Bill Goldsworthy, a scout for the San Jose Sharks, who will join the National Hockey League next season, attended Skipjacks games at the Baltimore Arena Friday and Sunday nights.
"We have a lot of guys going to NHL, AHL and IHL games getting a line on good, young talent," he said. Mario Lemieux won't begin a back rehabilitation program until Dec. 19, according to Penguins team orthopedist Dr. Charles Burke. Lemieux, two-time NHL scoring champion, underwent surgery July 11 to remove part of a herniated disk, but began having pain about a month later. Shortly after Lemieux reported to training camp in September, doctors found an infection had spread to the bone in his lower back. Doctors began treating the infection with large doses of antibiotics, and tests taken Nov. 7 showed Lemieux making normal progress.