The Washington Capitals are not winners, but neither are they whiners. Despite an unexpected siege of adversity, the players and coach Tom McVie have maintained a healthy attitude.
"There are no quitters on this team, not one guy who is a quitter," said right wing Bill Collins, who has played for seven NHL clubs, beginning in 1967 with the Minnesota North Stars, who visit Capital Centre tonight at 7:30.
It's been great playing with these guys," Collins continued. "It's easy to get down on each other. You see it even on a lot of good terms. It hasn't happened here and it's due a lot to having one boss on this team. That's the man behind the bench."
McVie, the boss, has been disturbed by the inability of many players to follow his system, or his game plan, or the men they are supposed to be checking. He has never, however, questioned anyone's desire, or guts.
"What we have is the result of conditioning and togetherness," McVie said. "The club has really been together, even though we haven't been winning much.
"I've been on teams that were losing and it's been like a rattlesnake pit. But I respect the players and they respect me. There's never been one thing to upset that feeling.
"I've had excellent cooperation from the players, in punctuality, discipline, appearance, hard work, morale, trying to make themselves better players. I've never been with a team in my whole life like that. There's never been a thing I've asked them to do that they haven't done. We've gotten top mileage out of every individual on our hockey club."
"We are a pretty tight team," said defenseman Bryan Watson, also playing with his seventh NHL team. "It's important that we are. We realize we don't have an abundance of talent, but if we play together as a team we can beat any team in the league.
"It's important when things are going bad that guys stick together. The older guys try to lead on the ice, keep things together. You try to work as hard as you can, give it your very best and get everyone thinking that way."
"We feel here that we have an opportunity to play," said center Guy Charron, now with his fourth NHL club. "We know we have a long way to go to match the top teams. But grumbling would just make it hard on each individual. The team here has unity and keeps together. It's a long season. It would be a lot longer if our spirit wasn't so good."
"Despite not winning a lot, we haven't played poorly," said team captain Gerry Meehan, who played for five other NHL teams before joining the Capitals. "We haven't let each other down. If you're playing poorly, it can create stress on individuals."