Dennis Maruk, the man who came to dinner three years late, who honored as the Washington Capitals' player of the year last night at a fan club-sponsored banquet at the Rolling Air Force Base Officers' Club.
Maruk, acquired from the Minnesota North Stars Oct. 18, is the Capitals' scoring leader with 31 goals and 58 assists for a club-record 89 points.
Washington management bore much criticism for passing up Maruk in the 1975 amateur draft, instead choosing Alex Forsyth and Pete Scamurra beforeMaruk went to California in the second round.
General Manager Milt Schmidt, aware of Maruk's ability because Maruk played his junior hockey in London, Ontario, where the Capitals trained, claimed Maruk was "too small." At 5-fott-8, Maruk is bow the Capitals' smallest player in stature, the biggest in accomplishment.
Captain Guy Charron, the player of the year for the last two seasons, was chosen the team's most popular player by the fans this time.
Although his goal production dropped from 38 a year ago to his current 26, Charron has contributed greatly in smoothing often rocky relations among the players and in smothering resentment of Coach Danny Belisle among admirers of his predecessor, Tom McVie.
The unsung hero award was presented to Rolf Edberg, the Swede who has compiled a plus-14 rating that is unmatched in the club's history. In one stretch of 32 games, Edberg was on the ice for only three opposition goals.
Defenseman Gord Lane was selected as the team's most improved player. Lane was light years ahead of last year's performance in moving the puck out of his zone and virtually eliminated his old problem of holding the puck too long aroung his own bet, where he often set up opposition goals in the past.
he most-promising-player award was presented to Ryan Walter, a leading contender for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year. Walter has collected 26 goals, 27 assist, a plus-one rating and numerous accolades in quickly overcoming tthe diffecult transtion from junior hockey to NHL