The Washington Capitals have fired scouts Red Sullivan and Billy Taylor, who had been with the club since its birth in 1974. Their departure from the organization leaves only defenseman Yvon Labre as a surviving example of Capital nostalgia.
Sullivan not only was the chief scout for five seasons, he coached the club for 19 games in 1975. Sullivan compiled a 2-17 record, then turned the reins over to Milt Schmidt, the general manager.
Max McNab, the current general manager, indicated that a major reason for the dismissal of Sullivan and Taylor was their failure to properly assess collegiate talent, which is becoming a more important source of NHL recruits.
"It just seemed to me we needed a totally different approach to the business," McNab said. "The scouts need to adjust their thinking to freshmen, rookies, high school, Tier Two. With the under-age draft, it's a whole new ball game.
"There's no question the college players have been largely ignored. Montreal at last year's training camp as 23 percent college players. A lot of good players graduated last year and this year, but we've got only a couple of prospects.
"We discussed it every year and thought it was the way to go, but we never set up a structure.
"Now, with only six drafts, it's even more important to have a complete grasp of all areas."
McNab cited the success of Dave Taylor, the Los Angeles Kings' 43-goal scorer out of Clarkson College, chosen 210th in the 1975 amateur draft. The Capitals made no further selections that year after tabbing Mal Zinger No. 161. It was in the 1975 that Washington chose Alex Forsyth, a one-game NHL performer, in the first round.
"Everybody makes mistakes in this game and there are a couple of kids down in Hershey who might surprise them yet," said Billy Taylor, who quickly hooked on as a scout with Pittsburgh. "I've got no complaints, but it came as a great shock to me. I couldn't understand it. I thought we were really getting things organized.
"They treated me well while I was there and I have the greatest respect for Max. You won't find a harder worker than him. I'm disappointed leaving Washington, but the move has turned out real good for me. I never had any indication, though. A year ago I even turned down a job with the Rangers."
Jack Button, the Capitals' new director of player recruitment, has been given "absolute charge of assessing talent" for Thursday's entry draft, according to McNab.