David Poile and Bryan Murray deserve a lot of credit for the Washington Capitals' success. So does Roger Crozier, who served as interim general manager after Max McNab was fired, then was bounced himself to make room for Poile nine months later.
During Crozier's brief tenure, he swung the deals that brought goalie Pat Riggin and forwards Bob Gould and Alan Haworth to Washington. He drafted defenseman Scott Stevens and helped persuade owner Abe Pollin to hire Murray as coach.
For his pains, Crozier was dismissed by Pollin just before the start of the 1982-83 season, when it was too late to obtain another job in hockey.
Crozier, 42, has not done badly, however. Now living in Chadds Ford, Pa., he is an officer with the Maryland Bank N.A. in Delaware. Closely involved in such aspects of banking as internal services, property management and new construction, it is safe to say that Crozier earned more money last year than the Capitals did.
"I was a little bit disgusted with hockey after the way I was let go, so I thought I'd try something else," Crozier said. "Fortunately, everything has worked out well. We've built several new buildings and I'm really busy, so much so that I never got to my summer cottage last summer and I've only been to one hockey game since I've been out of the business.
"That was in Buffalo a couple of years ago, when I just happened to be in town. I've been threatening to go to a game in Philly, and some of the other bank executives want to go with me, but it hasn't worked out yet.
"We don't get cable here, but there are a number of Philly games on Channel 29 and a few on Channel 6. I haven't watched enough to follow it. I've been working hard, I've gotten several promotions and this is my life now."
Crozier is well aware the Capitals have risen to a spot among the NHL's elite, however, and he says it was expected.
"It doesn't surprise me," Crozier said. "It was there for the plucking at that time. When you draft (Bob) Carpenter and (Mike) Gartner and Stevens, and make deals like Haworth and Riggin, you knew they'd do well. They're all good hockey players. Then add Bryan -- all those things combined -- it didn't take a genius to know it was going to be a good hockey team.
"It was unfortunate the way it turned out for me, but you have to stand up and face the music sometimes. I know I did a lot of good for them and I made a lot of good decisions for them. Now I'm somewhere else and I hope I'm still making good decisions."
Crozier, an NHL goaltender for 14 seasons, ended his career in Washington in 1977, then became assistant general manager under McNab before assuming control of the club in November 1981. In 1965 with Detroit, he was a first all-star as well as the NHL rookie of the year. In 1966, he earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup MVP, even though the Red Wings lost to Montreal.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association will be voting today for the teams that will represent the Prince of Wales and Campbell conferences in the Feb. 12 NHL All-Star Game at Calgary.
Here is one Wales voter's ballot:
Goalie -- Pelle Lindbergh, Philadelphia; Steve Penney, Montreal; Tom Barrasso, Buffalo.
Defense -- Rod Langway, Washington; Ray Bourque, Boston; Bill Hajt, Buffalo; Scott Stevens, Washington; Brad McCrimmon, Philadelphia; Chris Chelios, Montreal.
Center -- Bob Carpenter, Washington; Brent Sutter, Islanders; Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh.
Left Wing -- John Tonelli, Islanders; Brian Propp, Philadelphia; Michel Goulet, Quebec.
Right Wing -- Mike Bossy, Islanders; Tim Kerr, Philadelphia; Mike Gartner, Washington.
And the envelope, please:
"You've done it again -- another rah, rah Capitals article with the opposing team harboring a villain. I'm referring to the Detroit Red Wings and the Jan. 9 article mentioning the hit Doug Jarvis took in that game. If you noticed, Jarvis was skating with his head at elbow level, so when Ladouceur hit him, it was with his elbow -- that is, left elbow -- and left hip, and left shoulder. Vicious but clean.
"I have been in the D.C. area for two years and have been reading your columns on the Capitals. Really, don't you think the Caps deserve some criticism sometimes? I've noticed how horrified you always get when some NHL 'goon attacks' some innocent Capital team member, but how justified it allegedly is when a Cap 'decks' some trouble-making foe."
-- Robert P. Sagusti, Beltsville
For the defense:
If it's okay to elbow a guy whose head is at elbow level, I'd hate to be lying on the ice when you skate by. As for all those evil Caps, the latest penalty figures show Washington 21st and last. If criticism of a Capitals troublemaker is your bag, go to the library and dig out some old Randy Holt stories.
Last laugh: administrative assistant Ellen Ward, seeking directions for a demoted Capital, asked, "What's the quickest way to get to Binghamton?"
The immediate response from Marketing Director Lew Strudler: "Play two bad periods in a row."