Gary Green, the master of motivation, got the job done today merely by lifting a newspaper. Green's Washington Capitals, who play the Los Angeles Kings here Wednesday night, were omitted from the weekly large-type "How They Really Stand" NHL standings in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.
"Unbelievable," muttered captain Ryan Walter, who bristles at the slightest disparagement cast on the team.
"Mind if I borrow this?" asked Green, appropriating the newspaper with the delighted smirk of someone who had wondered how to get his team's attention on the upcoming task and off the sun, surf and starlets who can be so distracting in this area.
"We'd better verify this before we go to practice," said Mike Gartner, who marks his 21st birthday Wednesday and, like most of the Capitals, has shown more enthusiasm for Green's team meetings at the hotel pool than for the daily grinds on ice at Culver City Ice Rink.
The Capitals took on the apperance of Halloween trick-or-treaters today as they lounged in practice uniforms outside the Forum in bright 80-degree sunlight, awaiting the arrival of the chartered bus to Culver City.
Goalie Mike Palmateer, who will start Wednesday, pushed his gear up the ramp in a shopping cart, which tipped over at the top. Then he lay down on the sidewalk, soaking up the sun.
Defenseman Pat Ribble sat on a wall wearing an odd-shaped Czech helmet and, with his shoulder pads outside his jersey, needed only a trick-or-treat bag to begin his rounds.
Coalie Wayne Stephenson wore his mask, had his pads wrapped around his shoulders and looked like one of the actors in "Shogun."
The entire team worked out for 90 minutes at Culver City, including defenseman Rick Green and winger Bengt Gustafsson, who had been excused Monday to rest nagging injuries.
The princiipal focus of attention was the power play, which ranks 20th in the 21-team NHL. It promises to be particularly important here, because the Kings have successfully killed 13 straight opposing extra-man chances.
"I am concerned about it and we've been working very hard on it," Green said. "We hit on 27 percent during the training camp games and we can't get by this way (16 percent)."
Green flew to Denver this afternoon to watch the Kings play the Colorado Rockies tonight. Los Angeles went into that contest with the NHL's sixth best power play, having connected 11 times in 45 chances.
King Charlie Simmer was the NHL's leading scorer entering tonight's games, with 16 points on eight goals and eight assists. Linemates Marcel Dionne and Dave Taylor shared fifth place with 13 points each.
Los Angeles has won all five of its home games, but will be at a slight disadvantage Wednesday because it will be playing its fourth game in five nights while the Capitals have been waiting here since Sunday.
Washington will be starting a four-in-five ordeal, its first such scheduling nightmare in two years. The Capitals play in Denver Thursday, Edmonton Saturday and Winnipeg Sunday. In their last four-in-five assignment in March 1979, the Capitals posted a loss and three ties.