Reflecting their status as the top team in the Prince of Wales Conference, the Washington Capitals today placed three players on the conference team for the National Hockey League All-Star Game at Calgary Feb. 12.
For defenseman Rod Langway, it was the fifth such honor. For center Bob Carpenter and defenseman Scott Stevens, it figures to be the first of many selections.
Each of the three chosen players expressed hope that right wing Mike Gartner, third in the balloting at that position by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, would be added next week when Coach Al Arbour of the New York Islanders fills out the roster.
Right wing Mike Bossy of the Islanders was the only unanimous selection by the panel of 33 writers. Other first-team members are center Brent Sutter and left wing John Tonelli of the Islanders, defensemen Ray Bourque of Boston and Langway, and goalie Tom Barrasso of Buffalo. Selected to the second team, in addition to Carpenter and Stevens, were left wing Michel Goulet of Quebec, right wing Tim Kerr and goalie Pelle Lindbergh of Philadelphia, and defenseman Chris Chelios of Montreal.
"It's a great honor and I look forward to it -- the game, the talk and the rest of it," Langway said. "We put three on it, but legitimately, when you look at it, we should have five. The years Mike (Gartner) is having and Patty (Riggin) is having, they should both be there, too. Patty's done everything Al (Jensen) did for us last year."
Langway wound up as Washington's only representative last year at New Jersey when Jensen, chosen as the first-team goalie, incurred a back injury and could not play.
"With (Bryan) Trottier hurt, I figured it was between me and Sutter," Carpenter said. "It's special not just to play but to be one of the top two voted to the team.
"I'm a little surprised the Islanders took the top three forward spots, because they're not having that good a year as a team . . . I just hope they add Mike to the team."
"I'm excited, because it's always been one of my dreams, like the Stanley Cup," Stevens said. "As a kid, I always watched the All-Star Game on TV and thought it would be nice to be there."
Coach Bryan Murray cited the team's success as a major reason for the multiple recognition. He said he expected the breakthrough by Carpenter and Stevens to keep them in the spotlight for a long time to come. "It's nice from an organizational point of view that we're getting recognized," Murray said. "It's obvious Langway is a perennial All-Star, but it's rewarding to see Scott Stevens get recognized so early in his career.
"Bobby Carpenter has been a top offensive player for us and I'm glad he's been recognized around the league. He's another young fellow and, being selected so early, he and Scott could be perennial all-stars, too. I am disappointed for both Pat and Mike. Pat Riggin has played awfully well for us. We're the second-best team in the league and Pat has played the majority of the games. As for Mike, his stats may not put him in the top two, but he's such an outstanding all-round player that if I offered him in trade, I know I'd get one of the other two without a second thought."