The Washington Capitals, their roster decimated by injuries, were further thinned yesterday when veteran defenseman Gord Lane walked out on the team.
Lane was placed on the suspended list and the Capitals were attempting to work out a deal for him. Immediate possibilities were Winnipeg, where Lane's former coach, Tom McVie, is situated, and Chicago, which has its own recalcitrant back liner in Dave Logan.
Rumors of a trade with Winnipeg came up earlier, since Lane is playing out his option, and McVie said then, "As far as I know nothing is cooking. But if I can get Gordie I'll even come down there and drive his van up to Winnipeg for him."
Lane, a player of considerable courage and little natural ability, played for McVie in the International League and followed him to Washington, where Lane gradually turned himself into an adequate defenseman. He was criticized for giveaways near his own net and for foolish penalties, but teammates extolled him for helping them out physically.
"I am deeply disapointed, because this puts a tremendous burden on Gordie's teammates and Coach (Bary) Green," Max McNab, the Cap general manager, said. "I talked to him and pointed out the position he was putting himself in. He indicated that he might consider retirement and go home to another job, then this morning he semed as if he might accept a move.
"He did not feel the organization had showed enough confidence in him, since he sat out the first two games, and he felt when the injured personnel came back he would not be a member of the team. This was never indicated to him by any member of the organization."
Lane played little in Wednesday's 4-2 loss to Toronto, although the club was down to five defensemen, including rookies Greg Theberge and Brent Tremblay.
"he just wasn't in it mentally," Green said. "Usually he's alive and ready to go, but when I spoke to him he was dead. He was obviously thinking of something else. He wasn't hearing me."
Lane skipped practice Thursday, instead discussing his problems with McNab and Roger Crozier, assistant general manager. He did not appear for Friday's practice or yesterday's game, at which time he was suspended. Lane could not be reached for comment. Teammates reported that Lane merely said, "no," when his turn came to speak at the players' post-game meeting Wednesday night.