Center Ron Lalonde, who has played more games in a Washington Capitals uniform than anyone else, was brought back yesterday, just in time to maintain his longevity record.
Lalonde was summoned from Binghamton, N.Y., of the American Hockey League, where he had collected seven goals and seven assists. He has played 274 games as a Capital, three more than defenseman Gord Smith.
Lalonde and Smith figure to be paired as penalty killers to shore up one of the club's weaker areas. But the timing of Lalonde's recall was geared to the questionable status of Rolf Edberg and Mark Lofthouse, plus terminal discontent with the play of Greg Carroll.
Carroll, a one-time No. 1 draft choice who spent the last two seasons in the World Hockey Association, was placed on waivers for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release. Carroll, who had five goals and six assists in 24 games, balked at an invitation to join Hershey of the AHL.
"There's talent there, but what we saw in half a season wasn't enough to wait on it," General Manager Max McNab said of Carroll. "It was there for a while, but the last seven or eight games, particularly the two with Philly and the two with Toronto, were not in his favor. Our games are going to get tougher."
The indication was that the Capitals are seeking tougher players, and McNab last night was conversing with Flyers General Manager Keith Allen in Philadelphia, where winger Don Saleski is one of several Flyers available for trade. The rumors of a Washington-Philadelphia deal include the names of Capitals defensemen Gord Lane, a tougher guy at a less critical position, and Bryan Watson, little used by Washington but remembered around the NHL for his courage.
McNab sidestepped trade talk by joking that he saw the Flyers and Islanders in Philadelphia "to see if their power plays can compare with ours."
Washington's extra-man attack clicked twice in Wednesday's 8-3 rout of Los Angeles.
"It looked to me like it was going to score," McNab said. "It was like watching the Islanders, when they move the puck and make you feel that something is going to come out of it."
Dennis Maruk, a key figure in Washington's power play. is also a No. 1 penalty killer, working with Smith, and McNab noted that "if Newsy ( Lalonde) can do the job with Smith, it will keep Maruk fresh."
Lalonde was one of the Capitals' best penalty killers in years past.
"Jacques Caron (Binghamton's coach) says he's been their key faceoff guy and key penalty killer," McNab said. "We're bringing him up because we can't go into a tough weekend short staffed, and he might not even play, but he just might turn out to supply something we need."
Edberg, who bruised a bone in his left knee Tuesday in practice, skated yesterday. His availability for games Saturday in Detroit and Sunday in Chicago is uncertain.
Lofthouse, bothered by headaches that forced him out early Wednesday night, was given extensive tests that showed nothing definitive. He, too, is questionable for the weekend.
Defenseman Rick Green, who twisted a knee when he was tripped by Los Angeles' Brian Glennie, is another whose status will be determined following this morning's practice.
Carroll was the last asset remaining from the Capitals' trade of their No. 1 draft choice to Philadelphia in 1975.
For that pick, Washington received Bill Clement, Don McLean and a later No. 1 choice they used to draft Alex Forsyth. Clement was dealt to Atlanta for Gerry Meehan, Jean Lemieux and the No. 1 selection with which McNab chose Carroll.