When Bob Girard, Ron Lalonde and Doug Patey were demoted to the Washington Capitals' B squad yesterday, their first task was not to hold their heads high. Instead, it was to keep them down.
The A team scrimmages under relatively civilized conditions. The B squad's object is to be noticed. In some cases, the notice would not be out of place on a Post Office bulletin board. Certainly, a lot of heads are bounced off the boards.
"It's good we've got new boards this year." said Hershey Coach Chuck Hamilton, the nonpenalty-calling referee of the B squad scrimmages. "They certainly have been physical. They're spirited. They want jobs."
Archie Henderson, Nelson Burton and Brent Tremblay, who accumulated more than 1,000 penalty minutes in the minor leagues last session are three players whose presence tends to induce an opponent to duck.
Henderson is the 6-foot 6.212 poudn right wing whose jarring check a year ago sent Blair Stewart to surgery and, some feel inspired the current roster division, to preserve the first stringers' health.
"That's the way I like to play - agressive," Henderson said. "This is a body contact sport and I like to clag a few people."
A year ago, Henderson had little visible talent other than the ability to "clag" somebody. During the summer, however, he attended Laura Stamm's powerskating school in Penticton, British Columbia, and also took ballet lessons.
"The guys kid me about it, but that ballet really helped me," Henderson said. "I'm a big guy and my body is a little hard to control. That helped me bend my knees and gave me better balance."
So, in addition to scoring a onesided decision over another right-wing contender. Mark Lofthouse, Henderson also impressed folks here by scoring twice in yesterday's afternoon scrimmage and by skating in big-league fashion.
Burton, 6 feet and 205 pounds, scored a goal in his first NHL, game last year, against Chicago, but an elbow operation quickly removed him from the Capital Center scene. He has been noteworthy here for knocking down anyone who comes near, except Henderson, and for so cleverly interfering with goalie David McNab that his line beat a prone McNab twice on one shift.
"I KNOW I'm just an average hockey player." Burton said, "but I have the desire and the will to be aggressive. Very few guys have that.I know I can play hockey and mixing it up is the quickest way of getting to the top now."
Matched against each other, Henderson and Burton tend to leave each other alone and Burton explained, "He's trying to do the same thing I am. We respect each other. We're all trying to get a job."
Tremblay a 6-foot 2.190 pound defenseman, operates on the theory that if he flattens anyone he sees, that person can't do any harm. His theory, however, has been severely tested during bomb-squad competition.
After surviving a fight with Burton on Wednesday. Tremblay yesterday slashed Paul Mulvey, the 6-foot-4.211-pound winger who was making his first appearance following treatment for a bruised left knee.
Mulvey knocked the helmeted Trembley to the ice and belted him a couple of times. After Mulvey was pulled off, Tremblay rose to his knees, staggered to his feet, skated in circles while waving to imaginary birds and was helped to the dressing room to have the back of his head stitched up.
In the same pratice, Burton went crashing to the ice and struggled up with pulled groin muslces.
In neither case, however, is the damage likely to alter the playing style. Henderson is proof of that.Last year, while playing for Port Huron in the International League, he was struck over the head by the stick of Willie Trognitz. Henderson suffered a concussion and a broken nose.
"He just about killed me," Henderson said. "It was the worst I've ever seen. You never expect something like that. But it's all in the past. It hasn't affected me. I'm still playing the same. It's the only way I know."
Promoted to the A team were left wing Gary Rissling, a miniature edition (5-9, 171) of Henderson and Burton; Swedish center Rolf Edberg and right wing Eddy Godin . . . The bomb squad, at least the healthy members, gets a new target tonight, meeting the New York Islanders rockies at Farmingdale, N.Y. . . . Asked what he would do if Henderson Burton and Tremblay wound up at Hershey, Hamilton said, "I guess we'll have to ask them to give us both sides of the penalty box."