Perhaps it's a result of the Canadian Government's crackdown on pornographic film. Or maybe Gord Lane has friends in the right places. Anyway, Canadian customs in Montreal has not yet released the videotape of Sunday's Washington-Detroit game, so Lane last night flew west with the Capitals, who meet the Colorado Rockies tonight in Denver.
Although Lane fighres to recieve a suspension for instigating a 38-man brawl in Sunday's contest, NHL Executive Vice President Brian O'Neill has withheld a decision until he reviews the film. It was flown to Montreal Monday night, but the customs people have insisted on prior screening rights.
"This is the first time it ever happened," said Washington General Manager Max McNab. "We've had a good association with the customs people and I don't want to get a black mark against us by making too much of it. I just can't imagine their wanting to take a look.
"They've given absolute assuronce that Brian will get it first thing in the morning. Meanwhile, we've taken our traveling team, all 20 men, to Denver as planned."
McNab did not make the trip and, with no local television or radio coverage to occupy his attention tonight, he planned to fly to Oshawa, Ontario, to watch tonight's junior playoff game between Oshawa and Peterborough.
McNab, like most Capital enthusiasts, was still relieving Tuesday's 4-4 against Boston, one of the season's highlights.
"It did what a sports event is supposed to do," McNab said, "make your fans suffer every emotion in the book. They were happy for us, mad at us and then delighted - it ran the whole gamut."
There were no concern about preparing a second videotape for the NHL office. When Boston's Bobby Shmautz was punching lineman Kevin Collins, the camera was focused on a clutching match between Washington's Rick Bragnalo and Boston's Gregg Sheppard.And when Boston Coach Don Cherry was arguing with a fan in the stands, between-periods commercials had taken precedence.
The season series against Colorado stands 1-1-1, with the Rockies having won an earlier contest in Denver , 8-1, to start the Capitals on that awful 20-game winless streak.
Colorado, Washington's expansion cousin, was tied with Vancouver for second place and a playoff berth in the Smythe Division before the Canucks played in St. Louis last night. Although Washington Coach Tom McVie was hoping his club could continue Tuesday's play and beat the Rockies, he confessed admiration for the Rockies playoff drive.
"I hope they beat Vancouver out for a playoff position," McVie said. "It means that the new franchises are making some headway. If they can get a playoff spot, they deserve it.
"People talked about the Smythe Division, but they didn't put themselves in that division. I'd sure like to be in their spot, running for the playoffs. I'm happy for (General Mabager) Ray Miron and (Coach) Pat Kelly. I know how hard they work just trying to keep their heads above water."
As for the Capitals, they held their final practice at Fort Dupont yeaterday, and all those great expectations of last fall can be summed up by the "Hard Work Gets It Done" T-shirts, which are selling at discount prices these days.
"I get a sick, empty feeling," McVie said. "Our season'e winding down and we anticipate so much. This is our last day here, and a lot of things are coming to an end. We never got anything done.
"I wasn't happy with last year, even though we made a big jump (24-42-14). But if I had to pick one year, I'd sure pick the last year over this year (13-48-13 with six to go). What I really wish is that we were just starting up,"