Center Doug Gibson, the most valuable player in the American Hockey League, became a member of the Washington Capitals yesterday.
Gibson, who scored 326 points in a little more than three AHL seasons, was waived by the Boston Bruins. Washington general manager Max McNab filed a claim and was delighted to learn that Detroit and Colorado, with prior opportunity, has passed.
Gibson, the MVP in 1975, when he recorded 116 points, and again this season, with 97, was delighted, too.
"I'm very surprised and happy," Gibson said by telephone from his home in Peterborough, Ontario. "Boston never seemed willing to give me up or bring me up. I kept hoping to get out of the organization so I could play regularly."
Gibson was called up by the Bruins in November, 1975, and scored goals in his first two games. But he was gradually relegated to permanent bench status despite the fans' clamor to play him, and then his unhappy season was terminated by a knee injury suffered in a pregame warmup.
The resultant surgery left no permanent scars on Gibson, as evidenced by his 41-goal, 56-assist, MVP season at Rochester.
"He came through the injury," McNab said. "There's no concern there. He's a productive hockey player, one of those guys the puck follows. He can pass the puck and he makes the puck move for him. Puck movement is something we have to improve on."
Although fit when he reported to Boston's training camp last year, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Gibson was quickly shipped out.Matti Hagman, a 6-foot-1, 185-pounder, succeeded to Gibson's spot on the Bruins' bench.
"The few games I played regularly in Boston I had a little bit of success," Gibson said, "and the fans were on my side. last year, when I was sent down, there were quite a few who called the radio talk show there to ask why. I'm glad they were on my side, but it didn't help me.
"With the Bruins, firs they would want me to play like (Jean) Ratelle, then like (Gregg) Sheppard. Maybe they wanted me to be more aggressive, but they never came out and said it."
Asked how he would spend the summer, Gibson said. "Trying to get in shape. I'd better if I want to paly."
An earlier caller had been Washington coach Tom McVie, and the subject matter was obvious.
I ran the Bruins' rookie camp the year he (Gibson) came up from Juniors," McVie said. "Sixty young hockey players were there and he stuck out. He was the class of training that year and played with Bobby Orr, but they didn't have room for Doug,"
[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] camp, he and Al Sims. Sims went up [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]
The Capitals will have room, although Rick Bragnalo may be pushed aside to provide it. It would not appear that Gibson will be forcing unemployment on high scorer Guy Charron, most valuable Capital Gerry Meehan or checking specialist Ron Lalonde.
Gibson played junior hockey with Lalonde at Peterborough on teams that also listed Bob Gainey and Doug Jarvis of Montral, Craig Ramsay of Buffalo and Colin Campbell of Pittsburgh.
"(Coah Roger Neilson stressed team play and never used anyone more than anybody else," Gibson said. "He was a disciplined coach and he stressed defense."