Schoenfeld upset by individuals' lapses

March 14, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

The Washington Capitals have blown leads in four of their past five games -- including Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Quebec Nordiques -- but coach Jim Schoenfeld says the problem is with a few individuals rather than the whole team.

"Some guys played their hearts out," he said. "A couple guys played their hearts out and just had bad games. But a couple didn't give what they have to give, and those are the ones I'm upset with."

Schoenfeld said he will not accept a player who will not give his all for his team. He called them "passengers too heavy to carry" who will either start playing to their abilities or "we've got to get them off the train."

He would not identify the players, saying, "If that's what it takes to motivate them, if caring for your teammates and their commitment isn't enough to motivate every player in the room, then to me he's not much of a hockey player.

"I'll close it by saying, from those who have much, much will be expected."

Because Schoenfeld will not name the players with whom he is finding fault, speculation can run the gamut.

And, whether Schoenfeld was referring to his two biggest men on defense, team captain Kevin Hatcher and Al Iafrate have been caught out with some frequency of late, as leads have vanished. One or the other was on the ice for two of Quebec's goals Saturday, and both were present for a third, Mats Sundin's winning goal.

"I'll take responsibility for the first goal," said Iafrate. "But I don't know what happened on the rest. I'm playing hockey the way I always have, the only way I know. If that's not good enough, it's not good enough. I don't know what else to do."

After the Capitals were tied by the Philadelphia Flyers last week, Schoenfeld pointed to Iafrate, for trying a hip check on Eric Lindros instead of making a full, stand-up block, as the reason the Caps didn't win the game.

Hatcher, who is a minus-16 on the plus-minus chart that shows he's been on the ice for 16 more opposition goals than his team has scored when he's been on the ice, also has been guilty of poor passing decisions that have resulted in many turnovers.

"We've got to stick together, not point fingers," said Hatcher. "We've been playing some decent games. But we have lapses over 60 minutes -- five- or 10-minute lapses -- and that's not good enough.

"Certainly, there's a point when you have to look in the mirror, look down deep inside and find out if you can say you've done all you can do.

"Sometimes I know I can play a little better. But I think I've been playing better hockey lately. I'm hitting, checking, using my size. I just want this team to win. If we win, I'm happy."

NOTES: Capitals right wing Alan May was in an auto accident as he left USAir Arena on Saturday night. He did not practice yesterday. He has a sore neck and back and is to see team doctors today.

The NHL trade deadline is March 21. Schoenfeld said he has not talked with general manager David Poile about specific trades. "By and large, I'm very happy with these players," he said. "I'd rather see a change in personality than one in personnel.

"I'm the guy who keeps saying I have the 20 best players in the league. I can't continually talk about trading them and maintain that perspective."

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