The Washington Capitals' latest escapade carries connotations of a Laurel and Hardy rerun. Well, Laurel, anyway. Winger Tom Rowe, called Stanley by his friends because of his resemblance to comedian Stan Laurel, is back in a Washington uniform after an absence of two years and 11 days.
Rowe was summoned from Hershey yesterday and going the other way was winger Lou Franceschetti, fresh from a one-goal, one-assist, No. 2 star effort in Wednesday's 5-4 loss to the New York Rangers.
Rowe had six goals and four assists in six games at Hershey. He signed a contract with the Bears, one that permitted a call-up by Washington, after being paid off by the Hartford Whalers.
Rowe, a third-round draft choice of the Capitals in 1976, was dealt to Hartford on Jan. 17, 1980, in exchange for utility man Alan Hangsleben. That deal took another odd twist when Hangsleben, after being paid off by the Capitals in November, signed with Hershey and then joined the Los Angeles Kings.
Rowe scored 31 goals with Washington in 1978-79, still a National Hockey League record for an American-born player. Much of the credit for that superb season went to his center, Dennis Maruk, and, after Maruk went down with torn knee ligaments the next year, Rowe's production skidded to the point that he was dealt away.
In Hartford, Rowe scored 23 goals in 115 games over three seasons. He had four this year in 21 games before he was dismissed.
"Tommy has been the best player in Hershey over the last seven games, the best player going away," said Washington Gneeral Manager Roger Crozier. "The only time he was successful in the NHL was with Dennis Maruk, and he wasn't successful the next year after Dennis tore up his knee.
"We're going to take a look at him playing with Dennis over the weekend and we'll make a decision. We know he has weaknesses, but he has a great forehand shot, he's a good skater and he has good size."
"I don't know Tom Rowe and I want to take a look at him," said Coach Bryan Murray. "We've given the majority of the people in the organization a chance and, when he signed in Hershey, we said if he played well we'd consider him. So we want to be fair to him.
"We're looking for a right winger who can skate and be a little bit of an offensive threat."
Rowe also amassed 61 penalty minutes in Hershey and drew a double game misconduct in his last appearance.
"I'm fighting for a place on the team," Rowe said."I was told that if I'm going to make it anywhere, I've got to be more aggressive, not just skate up and down my wing."
Franceschetti had two goals and six assists in 21 games, with seven of the eight points coming against the Rangers.
"Louie has played pretty well, he skated well and he's bumped well," Murray said. "But he has only two goals and I don't consider him a real offensive threat. That's not to say he won't be back. He definitely can fill a role. Our objective right now is to see if Tom Rowe can give our offense a boost."
Perhaps the man the Capitals should consider is Wes Jarvis, who has scored 17 points in his last nine games at Hershey and was Rowe's center there.
Jarvis, the Capitals' plus-minus leader at plus-6 when he was demoted Jan. 1, had two goals and two assists Wednesday as Hershey snapped Binghamton's seven-game winning streak, 5-3. Also scoring two goals and two assists was Tony Cassolato, who took Rowe's place at right wing while Rowe completed a two-game suspension for amassing four game misconducts.