The youth movement in hockey was emphasized yesterday by Bobby Carpenter's reference to Bobby Orr, a friend who is helping him through the initial media landslide that accompanied his selection by the Washington Capitals in the National Hockey League entry draft.
"I know him (Orr) now, but back when he was playing I didn't know about him. I was only 5 or 6," Carpenter said.
Orr led the Boston Bruins to Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972, then was forced out of hockey by knee problems. He heard about Carpenter from Gerry Cheevers, now the Boston coach, and ex-Bruin John McKenzie.
"They told me years ago about a youngster in Peabody (Mass.) who was special, Orr said from Carpenter's home before handing Carpenter the phone. "Now I'm a friend of the family. I've been through a lot of what Bob is about to go through. He's a fine young man, as you'll find out if he gets into Washington."
That "if" is important, since Carpenter's father would like to see attend Providence College, at least for a year or two. Although Orr was noncommittal, he seemed to favor the college route, too.
"There's a very good chance he'll wind up at Providence College," Orr said. "They have a good program. He's only 17 years old, 18 in July. He's got lots of time. The NHL is a tough league, he's a young man and he's never been away from home.
"The caliber of play in high school is not up to the leagues in Canada, but you have to see him play. It hasn't hurt him. The decision on his future is up to his family and they're fairly excited about him being drafted by Washington. It was a surprise to them. They knew nothing about it. The talk has all been Hartford and I imagine there were a lot of shocked people at the draft, particularly at the Hartford table."
Center Dennis Maruk, Washington's only 50-goal scorer, heard the news of Carpenter's selection and said, "Well, that gives us eight centers, doesn't it? This should be some camp."
Center Ryan Walter, notified at his home in Burnaby, B.C., that he had been chosen the Capitals' most valuable player by management, said, "If it will help the team, I'll gladly go back to left wing. Mr. Carpenter is not only supposed to be an outstanding hockey player but a fine person, too, and we're looking forward to meeting him."
If anybody can lure Carpenter to Washington, possibly it will be captain Walter, an avid fisherman. Carpenter knows about him, too.
"I've gone to most of the Boston games and I've seen the Capitals," Carpenter said. "Ryan Walter, the captain, is really impressive. I liked him a lot. It's a good, young team."
Carpenter, Orr pointed out, was wearing a Capitals golf shirt, which the youngster said had been given him in November by Washington scout David McNab. Now all they have to do is persuade him to wear a Capitals jersey.