Jack Doniger learned yesterday what that disclaimer "with club approval" meant, following the required announcement to Washington Capitals' television viewers that Doniger was paid by WDCA-TV-20. The Capitals fired Doniger and replaced him as color man with Nick Charles.
The change followed a Friday night telecast from Springfield, Mass., in which Doniger conducted a second intermission interview with Roger Crozier, the Capitals' assistant general manager.
Doniger claimed he was fed questions by Pierce Gardner, the Cap public relations director, but "I used only one because the rest were asinine."
Gardner said he had furnished "suggestions for Jack to ask," but denied he had supplied a verbatim list.
Crozier was designated as a "guest" by the club. Until Dec. 19, Doniger had made his own selections. I was his guest that night and afterward Doniger apologized for steering the conversation away from anything that might be critical to the team.
Doniger said he had been warned of derogatory comments following an earlier interview with Minnesota scout J. P. Parise, in which Parise detailed the reasons why the North Stars were beating the Capitals at the time, 6-0.
"He filled a whole eight minutes and told it like it was," Doniger said. "Of course it was very, very negative. I think that was where it started. I did think they'd let me finish the season and I'm hurt by the way it was done. I was told I was out when I called to make arrangements for Saturday's telecast. Nobody had called before that to tell me.
"One thing, a lot of pressure has been lifted off me now. I can go in to Abe Pollin and say without any personal involvment, 'You're letting a perfectly good franchise go down by the people you have in the front office.'"
Doniger, employed full time by Associated Press Radio, has a hockey background dating back to the 1940s. Charles, described by Gardner as having "worked hard this year to learn more about hockey," has been a constant critic of the Capitals on his WTOP-radio sports segments.