Dennis Maruk, the seventh 60-goal scorer in National Hockey League history, was the unanimous choice of a special seven-man panel as the Washington Capitals' most valuable player.
Maruk was honored last night at the Washington Capitals Fan Club dinner-dance at the Sheraton Lanham. Also receiving awards were Rick Green, best defenseman; Bobby Carpenter, outstanding rookie; Bobby Gould, unsung hero, and Ryan Walter, most popular player.
Notable absentees were Abe Pollin and the rest of the Capitals' ownership, stirring still more speculation about the club's future.
"We obviously have to settle what's going to happen around the club," Coach Bryan Murray told the gathering. "Are we going to be in Washington? Is Roger Crozier going to be the (general) manager? Is Bryan Murray going to be the coach?"
"Once we've settled that, we can approach the draft in an optimistic frame of mind. We have taken a big step forward this season and we are prepared to take a bigger step next year."
A panel representing the press, radio, television, management, fans and sponsors voted on the awards for the first time. It selected all except the most popular player, who was chosen by the fan club.
Maruk, the only unanimous selection, finished the season with 60 goals and 76 assists. His 136 points equaled the eighth-highest total in NHL history, and he is the highest scorer not to advance to the playoffs. Marcel Dionne held that dubious honor with 121 points for Detroit in 1975.
"I don't even want to think about that," Maruk said. "I'm pleased to get 60 and all those points, but I'd give a lot back to get into the playoffs. It's really frustrating."
The Capitals failed for the eighth straight season to earn a playoff berth; Maruk has not been in the playoffs during seven years with California, Cleveland and Washington, although he has 245 goals and 316 assists.
Maruk played the last nine games with a strained right knee. Because of the injury, he will not join Green, Walter and Mike Gartner with Team Canada in the World Championships that start in Helsinki April 15.
"The knee is better, but it's not 100 percent and I don't want to take a chance of serious injury," Maruk said. "They have enough players they can choose from. I've been over there quite a few times."
Defenseman Lee Norwood will represent the United States, but Carpenter declined an invitation, as did Swede Bengt Gustafsson.