Many National Hockey League management types have expressed displeasure with the current tour by two Soviet teams, Central Red Army and Dynamo, The Washington Capitals, however, consider Tuesday's clash with Dynamo at Capital Centre an opportunity for unaccoustomed glory.
Dennis Hextall scouted Dynamo's games in Winnipeg and Edmonton, then met here today with Coach Gary Green and Assistant Manager Roger Crozier for a debriefing. Additionally, the Capitals have received film of Dynamo's tour opener against Vancouver.
"We're going to do everything we can to beat them," Crozier said. "We're taking a lot of pride in this game. And there's a possiblity the series could be tied going into our game. That would really make it a big one."
"Dynamo's 4-1 victory over Edmonton Friday night gave the Soviet squads an overall 4-3 lead in the series. Other than the Capitals' contest, the only remaining game is Sunday night in Quebec, between the Nordiques and the Red Army, which has lost two in a row.
All NHL teams, under the agreement among the league, the Players Association and the Soviets, must play the touring Russians either this year or the next. In some cases, scheduling was difficult. For the Capitals, it was ideal.
"We have two days off before and two after," said General Manager Max McNab. "From that standpoint, we could not be playing at a better time."
Considering the Afghan crisis, the timing from a political standpoint could certainly be better. So there will be an increase in security precautions, although club officials are not expecting any widespread picketing or disturbances.
Obviously, Washingtion isn't Buffalo," Crozier said. "We have a unique situation in Washington and we intend to keep a special eye on it. Because of the way things are today, there will be an increased security, both inside and outside the building. It's not a panic-type thing, but everybody is aware of what the situation is."
Dynamo's practices at Fort Dupont, scheduled for noon Sunday and 9:30 a.m. Monday, will be open to the public, according to present plans.
"This is something good hockey fans are interesting in and everything involved, including the practices, is an educational-type thing," McNab said. i
"When the Soviets visited San Diego, we had open practices and the good fans appreciated it. The Soviets do a lot of things differently and we can learn from them."
The Capitals' sense of anticipation toward the game is in contrast to the viewpoints of such NHL figures as Toronto owner Harold Ballard, who does not want the Soviets in his building, and New York Islander Coach Al Arbour, who suggested "we should send them all back to Siberia and leave them there."
Arbour reportedly threatened Soviet Manager Anatoil Seglin following the Islanders' 3-2 loss to the Red Army. Arbour, annoyed by late penalties called by Soviet referee Yuri Karrandin, charged to the Soviet dressing room and according to a Newwark Star-Ledger account, screamed, "How much did you -- pay the referee?"
When Seglin appeared, Arbour shouted, "Oh, you speak English, you bald-headed ----. I'll punch you right in the mouth."
Arbour was pulled away and neutral observers attributed his blowup to the frustration of the season rather than the peanlties, which apparently were deserved.
It was just one more incident in the bumpy relationship between NHL and Soviets, which includes the famous Alan Eagleson finger in Moscow in 1972 and the classic mugging of the Red Army by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1976, when the Soviets left the ice temporarily in protest of violence ignored by referee Lloyd Gilmour.
After his Flyers won that meeting, Coach Fred Shero proclaimed that "we're the world champions." Guilding the outclassed Rangers against the Red Army in the opener of the current tour, Shero said, "This is an exhibition game and I will not overwork anybody to win it. There's enough trouble in the world without taking an exhibition game too seriously."
From the mountains of stereo equipment, records and tapes the Soviets were seen purchasing in New York, it is uncertain whether some of the visitors are taking their shopping or their hockey more seriously. Certainly, the Red Army's decisive losses to Montreal and Buffalo that followed were a bit of a surprise, since some NHLers, notably Boston managin director Harry Sinden, already had sounded off the pretour alibis in anticipation of NHL defeats.
Dynamo, all of whose previous games were in western Canada, might be persuaded to devote a lot of off-ice time to sightseeing in Washington, but there will be no lack of effort on the ice. The Soviet ambassador and more than 100 embassy personnel will be exhorting the Moscow club to win one for the Kremlin.
They bought tickets, too, after a suggestion they be proffered freebies received the same response as Jimmy Carter's plan to the Kremlin to leave Afghanistan.