Center Wes Jarvis, called up from Hershey a week ago on an emergency basis, has become a permanent fixture with the Washington Capitals.
"Jarvie is up for good -- at least as much as anyone else is," Coach Gary Green said today. "He's played so well, it would be difficult to take him out of the lineup."
Jarvis replaced Guy Charron, who had suffered a sprained ankle, for the Oct. 19 game at Chicago. Two days later, with Charron recovered, Jarvis took over for Rolf Edberg, who pulled a muscle in his lower back. Now Edberg is healthy, but he has not been able to regain his starting job.
"Rolf had a tough start, and he has a history of tough starts," Green said.
"He comes to training camp in excellent shape and he works hard, but he has a tough time producing. He hasn't been producing enough, offensively and defensively.
"He knows my feelings. All I expect is that he keeps working hard. We've got four games in five nights coming up and there's a good chance he'll be back before that stretch is over."
Edberg, Charron, Dennis Maruk and Ryan Walter were set as the Capitals' centers from the first day of camp. Green wanted to send Jarvis and Glen Currie, the star penalty killers of last season, down to Hershey to work on the offensive skills that had been neglected a year ago.
It did not take Jarvis long to convince Green that his offensive talents were very much alive. Jarvis, who scored 11 goals in limited action last season with Washington, recorded a hat trick in his first game for Hershey, an exhibition. Then, in the regular-season opener, he collected a goal and four assists. When that emergency arose, there was no question who to call up.
"When Gary told me I was going down, I felt bad and I considered it another setback, but I just decided to work that much harder and play the best I could," Jarvis said. "I worked harder and the breaks went my way."
"It's great to be back here. Whatever I can do to help win, that's all that matters. There's nothing like winning. If I'm here and he asks me to do a job, I'll do anything. All the guys feel that way. It doesn't matter what they do, they're all geared to winning."
In a preseason tournament in Sweden, Jarvis was asked to play right wing, even though he hadn't played wing since he was 8 years old. That experiment, prompted by the team's surplus of centers, ended abruptly when Jarvis dove to block a shot and suffered a bruised kidney.
"They sent me right home and I couldn't play for a week," Jarvis said. "That certainly didn't help matters. There are a lot of good hockey players in this organization and it's no easy task to play on this team. You have to work every minute to stay here.
"But I really believed I was in such good shape they'd have to keep me here. I worked harder than ever this summer to prove I wanted to play in the NHL for the Washington Capitals. I knew there were guys here and I knew it would be tough, but I thought I had a good crack at staying. I never really thought of Hershey until I was told to go down there."
Jarvis runs a Toronto health club along with the Maple Leafs' Ron Ellis and two teachers. During the summer, he lifted weights three times a week, rode a 10-speed bicycle 30 miles a day and skated once a week.
"You wouldn't believe the difference all that bike riding has done for my legs," Jarvis said. "I got the idea from reading how Eric Heiden did it. It's a change from running and it's great for your legs."
Jarvis was selected in the 13th round of the amateur draft in 1978, a good but not sensational junior with a reputation as a mediocre skater. After a 109-point season in Port Huron, he was assigned to Hershey a year ago, then called up to Washington when injuries struck. He played so well the Capitals just could not send him back.
This year, history is repeating itself.