When the Washington Capitals left for Sweden yesterday, the major topic of conversation was the 8-1 pratfall Canada took at the hands of the Soviet Union in Sunday's Canada Cup final.
"It's almost an insult," said winger Mike Gartner, the last man cut by Cliff Fletcher, the Candian team's general manager. "I can't imagine a score like that. They must have tried to open up when they fell behind and been blown out."
"It's just unbelievable," said the Cap captain, Ryan Walter.
"It's a real kick in the butt," said Coach Gary Green. "To think, Canada beat them twice and then to lose like that when it counted."
There was, however, no concern about the Swedish media downgrading the visit of the Capitals and New York Rangers because of the National Hockey League's embarrassing performance in Canadian clothing. Sweden's Canada Cup team was so bad it did not qualify for the semifinals.
"The Swedish journalists, they just cut their throats," said winger Roland Stoltz, who, with Bengt Gustafsson, arrived here Thursday and was returning to his homeland almost before he overcame the initial jet lag.
Stoltz and Orest Kindrachuk, recovering from back surgery, impressed Green in the club's last workout here before departure. They were scheduled for another practice after arrival in Goteborg this morning, then lots of sleep was prescribed before Thursday's Dagens Nyheter Tournament opener against Vastra Frolunda.
"I was told Stoltz was one of the toughest guys in the league over there and that he could hold his own, but it seemed like he can dish it out, too," Green said. "He and Hound (Bob Kelly) had a few collisions. Kindrachuk threw some thumping checks and there was no sign of a back problem."
"I like to check; I don't mind the hitting at all," Stoltz said.
"I'll know more in a week," Kindrachuk said. "It's not quite the same when you're with teammates, even though we had a pretty good workout. I'm ready to do whatever they want, but they have good scoring power, so I suppose they'll want me to work the other direction, keeping the goals against down."
Kindrachuk will center for Alan Hangsleben and Stoltz. Other tentative line pairings have Bobby Carpenter with Walter and Gartner, Tim Tookey with Torrie Robertson and Gustafsson, and Dennis Maruk with Kelly and Lou Franceschetti.
While the 25-man traveling squad left, 46 more players were opening practice at Hershey. With them in a new capacity was goalie Gary Inness, who will serve as assistant coach and trainer for the Hershey Bears this year. General Manager Max McNab stayed in Hershey, presumably to continue trade talks, and is scheduled to leave for Sweden Saturday.
In Sweden, the Capitals will play against two old friends. Rolf Edberg is a center for AIK, which plays Washington Friday, and Leif Svensson is a defenseman for Djurgarden, the Capitals' foe Sept. 22.