Scolded Caps return to work, quietly

November 20, 1992|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

The sound you just heard was the Washington Capitals walking on eggshells.

The team's practice facility at Piney Orchard was so quiet yesterday even Washington Capitals general manager David Poile heard it in his upstairs office.

"They don't even have the stereo on," he said.

It was the morning after the night of the collapse. The morning after the Caps had blown a 3-0 lead to the Minnesota North Stars and lost, 5-4, on a goal with 12.2 seconds to play. It was the morning after coach Terry Murray had shredded his players with a verbal barrage that left most of them, including singled-out goalie Don Beaupre, stunned.

The Caps (7-11-1) have reached what Poile called "the lowest point" of any regular season in the 11 years he has been here. And tonight, the Caps must face the Norris Division-leading Detroit Red Wings with former Caps star Dino Ciccarelli, who was sent packing in an unpopular trade last summer.

"I hope we play a good game and I hope we win," said Poile, who was aware of the Caps fans chanting "Dino, Dino" after Wednesday night's loss. "With our record right now, if we were playing the Red Wings or the Ottawa Senators if we don't do well, it would be a tough night for the players, the coach and myself.

"Certainly it could be magnified with Dino coming in here as a popular player. There's no question about that."

Ciccarelli is the Red Wings' second leading scorer, with seven goals and 15 assists going into last night's game with Winnipeg.

"It's going to be emotional for Dino," said Beaupre, who could be back in the starting lineup tonight despite Murray's complaint that he has given up cheap goals in all but one game this season. "Dino's the kind of guy who likes to burn you and he's playing with a real good team."

Beaupre, who initially was stung by Murray's attack Wednesday night, said he had a sleepless night worrying about his play and the team's situation. He also said he believed everyone knew when Ciccarelli was traded that it would "really change" the Caps.

"Dino adds a lot of character to a team that I think is really a quiet team," he said. "You miss that. You don't have a lot of real vocal guys. Look at our team, we've got seven new guys in the lineup.

"I really don't expect we can go out and play the kind of game we did last year, scoring the second most goals in the league," added Beaupre, 2-9 with a 3.92 goals-against average. "I think that's a misconception and we have to try another way to win.

"We have to be smart in our end and maybe go back to the way the Caps used to play because we don't have the same lineup we had last year. Not only because of trades, but because of injuries."

Poile said he has no timetable for any player or coaching changes in the future.

But the seriousness of the situation obviously does not escape him. After all, Poile is the general manager who made a series of trades that, so far, have not worked out: Mark Hunter is not playing, Kevin Miller is gone, Pat Elynuik has been scratched from the lineup and Bob Carpenter is producing little.

"I believe in this team," Poile said. "There were a lot of things that went into the transactions that we made that really haven't had any opportunity to be fulfilled. Our offense with [Michal] Pivonka and [Dimitri] Khristich, I have a feeling would be a lot better. Not only for those two players but I have a belief that they'll help add offense to others. But to this point, the trades we've made have not worked out well."

Yesterday, Murray said Pivonka and Khristich have been cleared for game action and they probably will make the trip to Quebec and Montreal this weekend.

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