NHL tells Capitals to quiet complaints

April 21, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals -- specifically coach Jim Schoenfeld and general manager David Poile -- have been told by Brian Burke, NHL vice president of competition, to keep their mouths shut and cease criticizing game officials publicly.

"He read what we said and basically told us to direct any complaints we have to him directly or to the supervisor of officials at the game," said Poile. "We had some discussion. But basically, I said, 'Yeah, OK.' "

Before the Capitals' Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Pittsburgh Penguins started, Poile complained that the league gave Pittsburgh an unfair advantage by scheduling its last regular-season game at home four days earlier than the date Washington finished its season on the road in Buffalo.

Poile also voiced his fear that officials would protect Mario Lemieux at the expense of other teams.

After the Capitals lost Game 2 of their best-of-seven series, 2-1, to the Penguins on Tuesday night, Poile and Schoenfeld complained about calls made and not made by game officials.

"The game-winning goal was illegal," said Schoenfeld, pointing to the presence of Lemieux apparently standing in the crease while Rick Tocchet scored Pittsburgh's second goal.

After Tocchet's goal, Poile jumped out of his press box seat and slapped the window of the off-ice officials box.

"If the officials aren't looking at the crease when a goal is being scored," said Schoenfeld after the game, "I don't know where they're looking."

Poile and Schoenfeld also complained of a high-sticking penalty on Dale Hunter, who Schoenfeld said retaliated after being hit twice in the head by Lemieux.

But Hunter's retaliation was ill-timed. It set up a five-on-three power play for the Penguins, who scored their first goal when Lemieux banked a rebound into the net off rookie goalie Byron Dafoe.

A spokesman for the league office said Burke had reviewed the tape of the game and felt the officials made the proper calls.

"Call the NHL back and tell them we totally disagree," said Poile. "We've looked at the film, too, and I disagree.

"The league does agree with us on one thing," he said. "They agree with us on how important winning this series is to our franchise. They know how badly we want to win it."

The man who is accused of doing the dirty deeds Tuesday and getting off scot-free, Lemieux, said he couldn't say where he was when Tocchet's goal was scored.

"I was spinning around, so I'm not sure," he said. "I know I was somewhere close to the crease."

As to roughing up Hunter, Lemieux laughed.

"He [Hunter] never does that, does he?" said Lemieux.

Hunter wasn't complaining. He's hit and been hit too many times to count and shrugs it all off, saying only, "That's hockey."

But the hitting may intensify in Game 3 tonight.

So far in this series, despite what appears to be pretty good defense by Washington, even without defenseman Sylvain Cote, the Penguins consider their total of four goals in two games entirely their own fault.

Yesterday, they were delighted to have some additional ammunition.

"They've been beating us down the boards," said Pittsburgh coach Ed Johnston. "We're always a half-second late. Maybe now we'll step it up and be more physical. They're playing their hearts out and unless we do the same, we aren't going to win."

CAPITALS TONIGHT

Eastern Conference playoffs Series tied, 1-1 Opponent: Pittsburgh Penguins

Site: USAir Arena, Landover

Time: 7:38

TV/Radio: HTS/WMAL (630 AM)

Tickets: 2,500 available

Outlook: The Capitals return to home ice for the next two games. Washington won the first game, 5-3, with Don Beaupre in goal. Pittsburgh won Game 2, beating Caps rookie goalie Byron Dafoe, 2-1. Pittsburgh G Tom Barrasso stopped 35 shots. The Caps report D Sylvain Cote (fractured right orbital bone) and D Jim Johnson (knee ligaments) are out, and C Dale Hunter (leg) is day-to-day. Pittsburgh reports D Greg Hawgood (bruised shoulder) and D Peter Taglianetti (bruised voice box) are day-to-day.

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