Tom McVie is one of a kind. The former coach of the Washington Capitals could have been behind the New Jersey Devils' bench during the past season, but chose to join the Devils' Maine farm team when New Jersey owner John McMullen would not give him a multiyear contract.
Now, when McVie has been mentioned for several NHL vacancies, including Vancouver, he refuses even to discuss the possibilities until the season has ended for Maine, which is involved in a tough Calder Cup semifinal series against the Sherbrooke Canadiens.
"My picture was in a Boston paper and my name keeps coming up, but I'm under contract to Jersey, they're paying me and I owe them something," McVie said. "I'm loyal to them, just the way I was to Washington. I don't respect people working for one company and talking to another. I do have a clause in my contract at the end of the year that says I'm available to talk to anyone else from the last Maine hockey game to June 30. At the end of the year, I'd be very interested in talking to 21 teams. I just hope one of them is still interested in talking to me."
Many hockey people would like to see what McVie could do with a good NHL team, although Boston now is out of the picture with its appointment of Butch Goring. In the past, McVie has guided dreadful clubs in Washington, Winnipeg and New Jersey. The one time he had some players, in Winnipeg before the team was stripped by the merger, he won the last WHA championship.
"I've paid the price three times," McVie said. "Those teams in Washington, Winnipeg and New Jersey would have killed most people . . .
"I'm definitely the Rodney Dangerfield of hockey. But hopefully I'll make it back up there. I've put in 30-to-35,000 miles on the bus this year, which puts me up to half a million. The fumes kind of get to you after a while."
Of preferring a two-year contract in Maine to a one-year extension in New Jersey, McVie said, "That was a little hard for Mr. McMullen to understand. But he'd been burned a few times on long-term contracts -- (baseball manager) Bill Virdon in Houston was one he mentioned, when they ran into a lack of communication one year into a three-year contract -- and he wouldn't do it. He told me if I did a good job, I'd stay regardless of the contract, but I gave him my view. If the players wanted me out, they could smell it and they'd outwait me. You have to be in a solid position. When I told him I'd rather go to Maine, he said, 'You mean you'd go down there and develop players for me for half the money? You're a hell of a hockey man, but you're a poor businessman.' "
McVie has done an excellent job with young players at Maine, as evidenced by a first-place Northern Division finish during the regular season, and he claims to be calmer in the face of adversity.
He showed it the other night, following a 9-2 defeat here, when a Sherbrooke writer asked, "What was the problem?" Obviously steaming, McVie maintained control and replied:
"Roses are red
"Violets are blue
"They scored nine goals
"And we scored two." Washington's Pat Riggin tended the nets for Canada when it defeated the Soviet Union, 3-1, in the World Ice Hockey Championships at Prague. Although that was the high point of the season, if not the career, for many of the Canadian players, Riggin said he was far happier with a 3-2 victory over the United States.
"I was nervous -- I wanted to win that game as much as any I've ever been in," Riggin was quoted by Canadian Press. "Hey, it's our game and these Americans are taking Canadian jobs. There's six of them on our club (Washington) and they all have this cocky, rah-rah attitude."
The Capitals' U.S. contingent is well aware of Riggin's anti-American feelings. Most of the players have adopted the attitude that they do not care what he says as long as he stops the puck.
When a Sporting News cover featured Rod Langway, Dave Christian and Bob Carpenter, the three Americans signed it with appropriate comments and placed it in Riggin's locker. He became enraged and tore it to pieces.