When Washington defenseman Rick Green had his separated right shoulder set today, he was asked, "How's the wrist?" The doctor was the same one who repaired Green's right wrist when it was fractured in a Forum practice in January 1977.
Another doctor, who checked the X-rays after the shoulder was separated Monday night in a collision with Montreal's Chris Nilan, asked Green whether it was the left shoulder that had been damaged. X-rays were taken of both, to compare the bone placement, and the confusion arose because Green's left shoulder had been severely displaced in December 1977.
"I told him it won't do any good to compare shoulders," Green said. "This isn't nearly as bad as the one on the left side last time. The left one has been banged up so much I guess it looked pretty bad on the X-rays."
Green will be out at least two weeks, but he declined to return home and opted instead to accompany the team to New York Wednesday for a Thursday night game against the Islanders.
"I'm afraid I'll miss something," Green said. "What's the difference if I'm here or there? I can only use one arm, anyway."
Green has played more games in a Washington uniform, 342, than anyone else. He has also missed 88 because of assorted injuries. Seventy-one games are the most he has ever played in a full season and the dream of playing 80 this year has now evaporated. It seems only the bad dreams come true.
"The night before I broke my wrist here, I dreamt that I was going to get hurt," Green said. "And yesterday I had a crazy dream. I knew something was going to happen."
Besides his major injuries, Green has been bedeviled by an assortment of recurring minor ailments. He had played all 30 games this year despite a groin pull incurred during the exhibition campaign and further problems with the wrist, which has given him difficulty ever since it was broken.
Green has been the bulwark of the Washington defense all season and, with his current plus-five rating, he is the only backliner in the black.
"We had gotten a good thing going and we lost the goalie (Dave Parro)," said Coach Bryan Murray. "Davy still isn't 100 percent, but he's back and looking better, and now we lose Greenie. That's not our whole hockey team and we're not giving up by any means, but it certainly hurts."
Timo Blomqvist, assigned to Hershey Friday, was called back to replace Green and it leaves Washington with six right-hand shots on defense, perhaps the first time that has happened in the NHL.
"I've heard of teams with six left-handed defenseman, but not right," Murray said. "Most teams are usually searching for a right-hand shot."
In a related development that will balance Green's absence on two occasions, New York Ranger defenseman Barry Beck was suspended for six games, effective immediately, for leaving the bench to enter a fight Monday night. Two of those games are key contests against the Capitals, at New York Sunday and at Capital Centre Dec. 26.
Winger Mike Siltala returned to his junior team at Kingston, Ontario, today, carrying the puck he knocked into the net on his second NHL shift here Monday. That goal created a temporary 1-1 tie and Dennis Maruk made it 2-1 before Green was hurt and the Canadiens rallied for a 6-3 victory.