When the Chicago Black Hawks skate against the Washington Capitals here Wednesday night, they will be without all four of their regular left wings.
All are injured, with the most celebrated casualty being Curt Fraser. He was the latest victim of Billy Smith, the New York Islanders' goaltender with the wayward stick. Fraser needed surgery to reconstruct his right cheekbone, and he still is experiencing vision problems in the right eye after being struck by Smith Jan. 13.
The Hawks have submitted videotapes that they say show Smith first striking Fraser on the left side of the head, then delivering the devastating blow to the face, to the NHL for possible disciplinary action.
Also out are left wings Darryl Sutter, broken left ankle; Al Secord, pulled groin muscles, and Bob MacMillan, who had surgery to repair shoulder damage.
Operating in their places on the left side will be Bill Gardner, a center who has moved to the No. 1 line with Denis Savard and Steve Larmer; rookie Ed Olczyk, a right wing who is playing alongside Tom Lysiak and Troy Murray; Jeff Larmer, and Tom McMurchy, also right wings shifted out of position.
With defenseman Keith Brown idled by a hip strain, the Hawks come into tonight's game in only slightly better shape than the New York Rangers, whom the Capitals routed, 7-1, Saturday. But at least Washington is not likely to finish a coach along with the opposition, as it dealt the coup de grace to the Rangers' Herb Brooks.
Chicago Coach Orval Tessier is not popular with his players, a situation that has existed since the second game of the Stanley Cup semifinals in Edmonton in 1983, when he said, "On the way home, I think we're going to stop off at the Mayo Clinic and get 18 heart transplants."
But Tessier has a contract through 1986, and the feeling around here is that since assistant Roger Neilson hasn't replaced him by now, Tessier is safe for a while.
The Hawks certainly were expected to do far better. They are two games under .500 and a point behind St. Louis in the Norris Division.
Beyond the team's mediocre performance, Tessier has erupted so often about the officials that he has been nicknamed Mt. Orval.
After the Hawks lost in Washington, 5-0, Nov. 25, Tessier contended officials were conspiring against his club because of the incident last year in which Lysiak cut the legs out from under linesman Ron Foyt, resulting in a 20-game suspension.
A week later in New Jersey, Tessier engaged in a heated verbal exchange with Frank Udvari, an NHL supervisor of officials.
Udvari called Tessier "the biggest crybaby in the league" and "the dumbest in the league" and suggested that Tessier quit.
Tessier responded, "I'm not dumb enough to be a referee and I'm making too much money to quit."
An NHL spokesman said today that Tessier had not been punished for any of his statements or actions.
Washington Coach Bryan Murray knows Tessier well. When Tessier was the coach at Cornwall in the Ontario Junior League in the late '70s, Murray was guiding Cornwall's Tier Two affiliate in Rockland, Ontario.
Murray attended the Cornwall training camps and discussed players with Tessier. Two years ago, Tessier edged Murray for coach-of-the-year honors, which Murray finally received last season.
Asked about Tessier's recent antics, Murray, who has received two gross misconducts of his own, said, "I'm aware of it and I think it's great. He's made everyone forget about me."
The Capitals will have one problem when they try to complete a sweep of the season series with Chicago and improve their 8-0-2 record against Norris opposition. Defenseman Rod Langway, ailing on and off with flu for the past month, was so sick today that he left practice early, an unheard-of concession for the Capitals' captain.
Right wing Craig Laughlin was accepting congratulations -- and fending off gags -- after being named NHL player of the week. Laughlin owns a six-game scoring streak, quite a change from a start in which he had only one goal and two assists in the first 16 games.