Guy Charron, the Washington Capitals' leading scorer, is being treated for a slight tear in the cartilage of his left knee.
If the knee responds favorably to treatment, Charron could be back on skates in a week and playing hockey would be required, forcing Charron to miss at least the first month of the season.
Charron twisted the knee last week, slipping while playing tennis. It is the same knee in which he suffered stretched ligaments playing for Team Canada in the World Hockey Championships in April.
Dr. P. M. Palumbo Jr., the Capitals' team physician, examined Charron today and said the tenderness was significantly diminished. He will check the 28-year-old center again Friday and indicated that if the improvement continued, Charron could begin jogging and then skate within a week.
Palumbo said he hoped surgery could be avoided by being patient with the injury. He said it should be known within two weeks whether it will be necessary to operate and remove the cartilage.
Charron played all 80 games for the Capitals last season and totaled 36 goals and 46 assists, Picked for Team Canada, he was injured in the first tournament game in Vienna, against the United States.
At the time, the knee was placed in a cast for 10 days. Charron exercised it, using weights, throughout the summer. He seemed exceptionally fit during workouts at Fort Dupont beginning Sept. 8.
"If I turn a certain way I might feel it," Charron said a week ago, "and of course I haven't been hit but it's nothing to worry about."
In addition to the leg exercises, Charron had strenghened his upper body with a summer weight program and was looking forward to a big season.
"My upper body needed improvement," Charron said. "It's one of the thing's where I know there's a lot of room to get better. I worked on the wrists and forearms, too, which should help in shooting."
Until the tennis mishap, Charron's chief concern was the possibility that he might be shifted to left wing, a position at which he has some experience, because of the Capitals' preponsderance of centers.
"It was something I was forced to do in the past," Charron said, "and it was not a good experience. It's hard to play one position, much less adjust to another. In the NHL the wing has to be one side all the time. At Detroit, I was at left wing and center and right wing. It hurts your production."
Charron, winger Mike Lampman' and defenseman Gord Smith all missed the second edition of the Capital Mile, won by left wing Craig Patrick in 5 minutes flat.
Lampman, who suffered slippage of vertebrae in December and missed the rest of the season after undergoing surgery, is being closely checked to be sure he is able to resume his hockey career.
"All the players with carryover injuries are receiving special attention," said general manager Max McNab. "Charron, (Pete) Scamirra, (Blair) Stewart, (Tom) Rowe, Lampman - we want to be sure that they're all ready before they go on the ice."
Smith pulled a muscle in his leg while running three weeks ago. He said the injury, although annoying, was no problem while skating, but only while pushing off the foot in run.
Patrick won a recliner from a furniture company for his effort, which beat goalie Dale Rideout by two seconds, Center Rick Bragnalo, last year's winner, was next at 5:08.
"I hadn't run any better than 5:15 on my own this summer," Patrick said. "I ran distances, then sprints the way it was set up in the program. When it started out. I couldn't do them, but I got better. With 80 games, the conditioning this summer has to help somewhere along the line."
Twenty-nine of the 50 runners passed coach Tom McVie's requirement of 5:40 down five seconds from a year ago. The 21 who missed can expect extra work.
McVic set the race up as a team competition, with players running in groups. The group with the best average, time earning a $200 prize, was composed of Ace Bailey, Rick Green, Jim Bedard, Doug Gibson, Gerry Mechan and Bob Dudley, a rookie out of Boston College.
Andy Dealy, another collegian from Bowling Green, and goalie Grant Cole boosted the trainning-camp roster to 54. Two-a-day drills begin Tuesday with the first exhibition scheduled here Friday against the New York Rangers.