It seems that nothing the Washington Capitals do can escape the jinx that has befuddled them since their birth in September 1974.
Heading for the inaugural training camp in London, Ontario, General Manager Milt Schmidt was arrested for speeding. His assistant, Lefty McFadden, took a wrong a turn in Philadephia and was lost for hours.
The team has been lost ever since, the overall record a dismal 89-277-63, with one victory in the last 15 games and undisputed possession of 21st place in a 21-team league.
The latest attempt to placate disgruntled season ticket holders seemed simple enough -- a Christmas card. With typical Capital catatonia, however, many of the oversized cards arrived with 7 cents-due notices, since only 15-cent stamps were used rather than the required 22 cents.
Proving that Capital fans are prepared to gripe about anything these days, many called the team's offices to complain. So Tom Hipp, the marketing director, sent everyone a formal apology. He did not, however, enclose seven-cent stamps.
When Yvon Labre reported to Arlington Hospital for his recent knee operation, his unusual (by American standards) first name resulted in being classified a female.
"They wheeled me into a room with a 90-year-old woman," Labre said. "I knew something was wrong, but after everything else I figured it wasn't worth complaining about."
Hospital officials, investigating Labre's mustache, soon had him shipped elsewhere.
The Capitals' recent road trip into Buffalo, which was struck by a 30-inch snowfall, was made almost without incident. The team reported for its Pittsburgh connection on time and learned that, although most flights into Buffalo had been canceled, TWA 75 was right on schedule.
Coach Gary Green, counting noses moments before takeoff, missed captain Ryan Walter and rookie Greg Theberge. Hustling outside, Green tracked them down in a lounge where they had made themselves comfortable after hearing an erroneous notice that the flight was canceled.
Upon landing in Buffalo, Green said loudly, "Ryan and Greg, thank you for flying TWA."
Pete Scamurra, before he returned from the injured list last weekend, has as much difficulty as the fans keeping up with the "Chocolate Crowd" reporting almost daily from the Hershey farm.
Scamurra visited the press box before one home game and asked for a roster sheet, saying, "I don't even know who some of these guys are."
Scamurra has a more detailed knowledge of the horses running at Maryland tracks and the other day he persuaded Green to place $20 on a "sure thing" at Laurel.
Either the tip was passed liberally about or a lot of Capital paychecks were riding on the horse. Princdom went off the odds-on favorite after being a lukewarm 4-1 in the morning line and placed eighth in a nine-horse field.