Tom McVie's insomnia isn't caused by visions of the Philadelphia Flyers, who visit soldout Capital Centre at 7:30 tonight. His sleepless nights are inspired by the team he is paid to coach, the Washington Capitals.
"I'm not worried about Philadelphia," McVie said yesterday. "I know what they can do. I'm worried about our club, because I don't know what they're going to do."
A year ago, general manager Max McNab collected 19 players who were willing to make sacrifices. McVie demanded hand work, the players responded and the club produced a satisfying 62 points. On paper, the Capitals are better this season, but the 2-61 record and the amount of effort expended to achieve it have left McVie at humor's end. Thursday night, after that 4-1 loss in Philadelphia, McVie and McNab stayed up till 4 a.m. searching for solutions.
"Talent-wise we have gained this season but emotion-wise and effort-wise we have lost," McVie said. "We are not as good a team as last year. Some guys just aren't doing their share."
"Some guys are giving exactly what they did last year, but I'm talking about 19 guys grabbing on the damn rope and pulling all together. If you've got 10 pulling and nine standing, or 12 and 7, whatever, we can't win.
"We either get all 19 guys to pull on the rope together or we'll get 19 guys who will. If there's six guys who aren't, then we've got to replace those six before the other 13 get dragged down to their level.
"Some guys apparently aren't willing to make the sacrifice. It's tough to do 80 times, but without it we're not going to won anything. That's why I don't sleep at night."
McVie held a lengthy team meeting before Thursday's game, explaining the facts of 100 per cent effort to his players.
"It didn't work," McVie conceded, "but in all fairness, the reason we didn't do a lot of things was that Philadelphia had a lot to say about why we didn't."
The Flyers utilized superior talent and speed to control play throughout. Still, the Capitalis have tied the powerful Philadelphians three straight times on home ice and McVie is counting on emotion to do the job again.
McVie canceled yesterday's scheduled practice because, "The last thing our hockey club needed was to go on the ice. Everyone is at least a pound or two under his ideal playing weight. There's no fatigue. We're ready to play physically. Mentally, every individual has to sit back and think what he can do to make us win and then go out and do it."
The Flyers would be the first to substantiate McVie's philosophy, they won two straight Stanley Cups through hard work, then lost some of their dedications last season. Thursday's relentless effort would indicate they have it back.
"In a way, the thrill of winning disappeared last season," said captain Bobby Clarke. "A few years ago, it was a big deal every time we won a game. That excitement wasn't there last year. This year, we're more serious. Some guys didn't even take a vacation. They stayed and worked out."