Defenseman Robert Picard, the man contractually guaranteed to be a Washington Capital forever, smashed his stick and stormed out of Fort Dupont in a rage yesterday after being ordered off the ice by coach Tom McVie. Barring a sudden change in attitude, Picard seems likely to become a Hershey Bear in the near future.
Picard obviously was floating through skating drills, despite encouragement from McVie. Then, during an exercise in passing the puck from the defensive zone, Picard slapped it far harder than prescribed, causing what would have been icing under game conditions.
McVie curtly told Picard to leave. The youngster broke his stick over the glass, threw the remains into the stands, stormed off the ice and was dressed and gone in seven minutes.
Picard's play has left much to be desired, but he has remained with the Capitals so that McVie can teach him the fine art of defense, in which he received minimal tutelage as an offensive-minded junior. However, McVie's remarks, after he was asked about the incident, indicated that school may soon be out.
"The last thing I want to do is criticize a guy in the newspaper," McVie said, "but you saw it. I'm not upset with him. I can only show him what to ently he doesn't want to learn. There are too many other guys out here who are willing to learn.
"I had a half-hour talk with Robert this morning on what he has to do to make him a better defenseman. I told him what I saw on films, what I saw with my eyes and what (general manager) Max (McNab) saw. The biggest item is skating, doing things while in motion, not standing.
"I've worked harder with Robert than with a lot of young fellows, but a lot have come along better. look at the progress Greenie (defenseman Rick Greer) has made by listening. You can't learn anything talking."
It was a distressing day for rookies from Quebec. Right wing Eddy Godin, who speaks no English, lost his way in Southeast Washington and was unable to locate Fort Dupont. Godin had attended previous practices with teammates, but retrieved his car from Hershey over the weekend and started yesterday's trek on his own.
Fortunately for Godin's wallet, McVie in an unusual move had offered his troops a day off if they felt fatigued. Bob Sirois, Guy Charron, Dave Forbes, Bryan Watson and Bill Collins were also absent as the team prepared for tonight's 7:30 Capital Centre visit by the Vancouver Canucks.
Aside from the workout option and more physical exertion than usual himself ("to work off my frustration), McVie did not alter his normal preparations. He admists he has no radical soluton for the Capital's 19-game winless streak.